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Old September 12, 2018, 11:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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[Dwarflands]One Man's Treasure is Another Man's Treasure(Braddoc, Hoskuld)

Mid-Summer, Era XXV

"Fethin' heat," the blonde Vagaran cursed as he wiped his the sweat from his brow with the back of his hand. Having been born and raised in the mostly frigid climate of the eastern peninsula of Libertas Bay, he wasn't acclimated to the heat he now found himself subjected to in the region known as the Dwarflands. He didn't know that the human body could sweat so much. But, no matter, he had come to these lands for a reason and wasn't going to turn back just yet.

Pale blue eyes scanned the road ahead. Up ahead he could see a building just off the road. That must be the roadside inn that he had been told he would find. Good. He wanted to get out from beneath the beating suns. At least for a little while. And, he had...come across...a few coins during his trek, so he could at least afford a drink. Maybe two, if he were lucky. He quickened his step a little at the hope of shade and booze.

His long legs carried him to the inn in good time. A small rock wall surrounded the main building, and a hitching post off to one side. Nearby, there was another structure, one that looked to be a small stable for guests spending the darkening, he assumed. He glanced up at the sky, calculating in his head how much of the brightening remained, and decided that he had plenty of daylight left to travel. A drink or two, some rest, and he would be on his way. And, maybe he could find out more information on what he sought.

Pushing the door open, he stepped inside, blinking a few time to urge his eyes to adjust to the dimmer light of the inn. He scanned the room, seeing only the innkeeper, one of those dog men...dorins, they were called. Tromping over to a table against a wall, he called out to the hairy fellow "Mead if you have it. Ale if you don't." He pulled out a chair and sat down, propping his battle ax against the wall beside him.

He wiped another layer of sweat from his brow as the dorin sat a tankard of mead on the table in front of him without a word. Tyr opened his pouch and pulled out a few coins, handing them to the innkeeper with a raised eyebrow. Nodding his satisfaction, the dorin slipped the coins into his own purse. "Enjoy," he said as he returned to behind the bar.

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Old September 13, 2018, 04:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Braddoc grimaced at the assortment of heavy bulges that peppered the pack’s tanned exterior and the pack gazed up at the bright, blue-sky content to be free of an irate Dwarf carrying it. Braddoc’s arms were not eager to sling the weight up and his sweaty back begged a longer reprieve to at least dry in this heat.

The break was perfect for Braddoc to pull out the hand drawn map to check he was on the correct path. The teenager's tale was dull up to this point on the road and so he played more off it in his mind, the misadventure shutting out the world. The story was convincing when the boy recounted falling into the caves, the agony of his twisted ankle furrowing his dark brows and the daylight peeking through gaps in the soil as he hobbled all alone through muddy tunnels. The story had a happy conclusion for the boy and that was good, but the unnatural glint in dark that the boy described captivated his interest. Braddoc remembered the look of confusion on the face of the boy when he could not recount how he found his freedom and his trepidation to sate the curiosity that all younglings have that worried him.

He stood up and folded the map back into a pouch determined to take up the challenge of finding this rare prize. The boy was scared to enter the caves, but had at least shared his discovery.

Reluctantly he lifted his pack with a protesting rattle, but it was short lived as within a few minutes travel Braddoc came upon what appeared to be a roadside inn. The pace quickened so he could drop the pack again and yet he slowed to inspect the small rock wall. He hazarded a guess that the stone was local, but from its construction, it would last a while. Nodding in appreciation of decent workmanship he noted the second building and hitching post as he came up to the door. Slowly opening the door he scanned the interior finding a Human and Dorin occupying the space. Braddoc could not tell who owned the establishment so he trudged to a free table and chair, whereupon his large body slumped down in utter relaxation.
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Old September 13, 2018, 09:36 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Tyr sat, body forward, elbows on the table, as he sipped at his cherished mead, hoping to make it last as long as possible. It had been over a week since anything other than water had passed his lips, and the mead, though the quality wasn't the greatest, almost tasted as if the gods themselves had sent it to him. As he relaxed, he went over the tale he'd heard back in Aelyria Prime. The tale that had sent him to the Dwarflands in search of treasure.

A few weeks prior, he had overheard a young man and a dark-skinned merchant speaking outside of a tavern. The man was doing his best to persuade the merchant to believe his tale. But, the merchant would have none of it and waved the young man away and continued on his path. However, Tyr had heard enough to wet his curiosity, and he had approached the man, asking to hear his tale. One that was quickly offered, for the right price. An icey glare later, the man had decided that he could share for free.

He claimed to have stumbled upon a cave in the Dwarflands, and of an adventurous sort, he took to exploring. Deep within the cave, far deeper than he had expected it to go, he had caught a glimpse of treasure, but, something else caught his eye and in fear, he had run from the cavern. Certain of the presence of a great treasure, he had thought to sell the location to someone with the means to extract it from the darkness of the caves.

Tyr wasn't so much a fool as to believe fully the man's story. But, there seemed enough sincerity there that he felt that there was at least a grain of truth. And, for the big Vagaran, who sought glory, adventure, and fortune, that was enough to send him west in hopes of finding this treasure..or at least the truth behind the story.

His revery was interrupted as the door to the inn opened, letting the brightness of daylight into the dim interior of the inn. Squinting against the glare, he noted a dwarf enter. Watching keenly, he followed the short, stocky man claim a table and slumped wearily into a chair.

A nod of greeting toward the dwarf and Tyr went back to cherishing his drink.
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Old September 15, 2018, 03:26 AM   #4 (permalink)
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He almost missed the nod from the Human in such eagerness to sit down, but he quickly smiled and nodded back showing his respect to the stranger. Braddoc closed his eyes the moment he sat down letting all tension drain away.

Standing up he thought about whether old age was upon him already, if he should be relegating himself to an easy life of residing in a town selling wares. In time, would he no longer be able to stand without making a noise like other elderly men, to heave his gelatinous belly up from an uncomfortable stool, to walk a few steps to his single bedroom he was renting day after day until his eventual demise? The thoughts disgusted him enough to turn away from the gentlemen inside the inn to avoid showing his face twisted in anger. He reminded himself he could not become his worst fears and what he was doing now would bring him one-step closer to his goals. Brushing down his clothes and doing a button up that he had loosened in the heat he endeavoured to improve his deportment, even if it was only by a fraction. Turning back around it was obvious without the sun baking his mind the Human was a fellow traveller. The entirety of one’s life was on one’s back when you are a traveller and the Human had the look of one who had everything he needed within reach of his hands. Braddoc felt short in such company and in particular with the hulking blond haired figure.

Braddoc spun on his heel catching the eye of he assumed the owner asking “Serale to you innkeeper, do you have water and food to spare at this hour?” The innkeeper was silent and efficient bringing him the water. Braddoc emptied his flask into his mouth, rinsing his mouth off the stale odour that comes from long hours kept shut. Taking hold of the jug, he filled his flask to the brim before returning the jug to the innkeeper. He placed a few coppers on the table more than enough for the water knowing he had taken a liberty filling his flask as he had did. The Dorin motioned to the bar as he remarked in a neutral tone that food would take a few minutes and Braddoc nodded he would wait. Sitting back down he waited for the Human to finish his sip “You seem parched and in need of something stronger. I have a bottle of white rum, at least a few shots worth. Would you care to have the rest of it?” He could lighten his pack and curry favour with the stranger whilst he waited for a meal, so he pulled the bottle out and uncorked it requesting a few cups or mugs from the innkeeper before he got a reply.
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Old September 15, 2018, 04:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Icey blue eyes lifted toward the dwarf, considering him for a moment before broad shoulders shrugged and the large man stood up, grabbing his tankard in one hand and an axe in the other before making his way over to Braddoc. He offered a friendly smile as he pulled out a chair and plopped down into it, eliciting a moan from the wood. The innkeeper appeared and placed two empty mugs on the table before returning to attend to the dwarfs food.

"Thanks, friend. A drink is always appreciated, though I'm afraid I'm not of the funds to repay in kind." He patted his pouch after resting the haft of his axe against the table. "Tyr, son of Kjeld. And who might you be?"

As he waited for the reply and for the dwarf to pour the drinks, he looked the man over. Tyr towered over him, even sitting, though that was to be expected. He dressed well enough while staying practical, and Tyr wondered if perhaps he was a traveling merchant. He had not seen in what manner the dwarf had arrived, and so it was possible that Braddoc had a wagon full of wares outside. The axe at his side and the roughness of the hands spoke of a man who would likely fight to keep what was his. With little more information to go on, the dwarf seemed the type that Tyr could respect.
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Old September 18, 2018, 08:08 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Braddoc waved his hand indicating as the tall man sat down "There is no need to worry of coin. The sword, shield and crown are of value to those in the cities and for our good innkeeper. Out here, good company is what matters. I am Braddoc Austeniner, a pleasure to meet you Tyr, son of Kjed." Braddoc only had to hear the name and glance over the attire of the one sitting opposite him to gather he was not from the south.

Taking hold of the cups the innkeeper set on the table he poured most of the bottle into Tyr’s cup after smelling it quickly to ensure it had not gone off in the heat, whilst he settled for less than half in his own. He lifted the cup to salute his drinking friend. Looking across to the innkeeper, he felt shame as only a Dwarf would feel for not considering the hospitality of the one whose roof he was under and so he stood up placing his cup on the counter. Stepping back to the table he picked up the bottle and filled up the cup that was to be his to the same level as Tyr's cup saying to the Dorin "Drink with us innkeeper." Turning back to table he said as he pulled out the flask of water saluting them “I have been travelling a considerable distance by myself in search of a rare prize and I believe I am close now." Braddoc's eyes scanned Tyr and the innkeeper to see their reactions.
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Old September 18, 2018, 06:26 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Tyr abstained from both his mead and his rum while Braddoc gave his cup to the innkeep and poured another for himself. "Skol!" Tyr cheered before downing the rum in one gulp, slamming the mug on the table with a loud smack. He settled back into his chair with a satisfied expression and grabbed his tankard, which he rested on his armored belly in case the desire to take a drink hit him. And, it would, to be sure.

A rare prize, hm? Interesting. Tyr stroked his blonde beard with one large hand. "A prize, you say? Seems that we have more in common than just being fellow travelers. I'm searching for a prize, myself. A cave, I'm told. That holds the promise of treasure. " He watched the dwarf, curious if they were, by some odd chance, searching for the same thing.

He had not seen from which direction Braddoc had come, and he wondered to himself just how many people had heard the man's tale in Aelyria Prime. One other person was not an issue. Perhaps a partnership. But, more than that became competition. And, without knowing just what sort of treasure might be buried in that cave, if any, it would be foolish to cut the proverbial pie into too many slices.
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Old September 18, 2018, 09:16 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The brows shot up at Tyr’s emptied cup slamming into the table. Braddoc spun his head to the innkeeper saluting him again before taking his swig of water still recovering from his surprise. He decided that the spirited man could be at the least a good distraction for the rest of the day before setting out tomorrow. He finally noticed sitting opposite Tyr once more that he was young, the facial hair and rugged temperament masked well his age, but the light in his eyes and smooth skin told otherwise.

Braddoc could not resist stroking his beard in time with Tyr, joining in with that singular delight. He recounted the teenager’s information for the innkeeper and Tyr to hear. As he smiled coming to the end of the tale, his cheeks raised up higher and the chin curtain fanned out like the warning of a frilled dragon, his face hinting at the debate in his mind at being so forthcoming.

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Old September 19, 2018, 01:13 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The Vagaran listened with interest as Braddoc retold the story he had heard from a boy who had stumbled across a cave. Inside, the hint of treasure. Tyr tapped a finger thoughtfully against his tankard. The story was all too similar to the one he had heard, from someone else, far in the opposite direction from where Braddoc had heard his version. What were the chances?

Leaning forward and resting his elbows on the table, he furrowed his brow. "That's an interesting tale. I heard much the same from a man in Aelyria Prime. Nearly word for word, really. Except for the falling into it. " He took a drink of his mead, wiping his mouth and beard with the back of his hand. "I find myself a little concerned at the validity of this suspected treasure."

He turned his pale blue gaze to the dorin behind the bar. "Have you heard this tale before? Or know of any cave in the area that may be the source of the stories?" With any luck, the innkeeper may shed some light on the issue.
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Old September 19, 2018, 05:07 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The innkeeper did not answer Tyr right away, instead fixing an appraising look at his guests for several silent moments, his canine eyes glinting greenly in the low light of the common room. ”You’re not the first travelers to ask about such things,” the dorin said at last, his tone neutral as before, but his manner perhaps a hair more guarded. ”In fact, there were three such in here last evening. They set out early this brightening, right after rosyun.”

He made a gesture with his sinewy shoulders and arms that may have been a shrug. ”I’ll tell you the same thing I told them. You want caves, head southeast from here off the main road, down what’s known as the ‘Quarry Trail’, towards the foot of the Khardrans. About a brightening’s walk the country gets hilly and…what’s that word? karsty. Several marble and limestone outcroppings, the occasional sinkhole, and plenty of caves. There’s some talk of one folks call the ‘Witch’s Cave’- that’s the one the group from last night were looking for. But I couldn’t tell you which cave that might be, nor why anybody would be keen to find it. Except maybe a witch.”

He regarded Tyr warily. ”Is that what you’re looking for?” he asked after another brief pause. ”I’d be careful if I were you two. I remember hearing about a boy busted his ankle a few months back. Might’ve been the same one you mention, or a different one.”

The dorin shook his large shaggy head disapprovingly. ”Not sure if I believe in witches or buried treasures, but I do believe in holes and nasty falls, and you should, too. There's plenty of ways to get hurt out in that karst.”
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Old September 21, 2018, 06:04 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Listening with interest to the dorin, Tyr found himself leaning forward a little more, so as not to miss a word. Three others? With a head start? That wasn't what he wanted to hear. But, at least the dorin confirmed, without actually saying so, that there was the possibility of something out there, hiding in a cave. If only he could locate it before someone else got to it first.

He glanced over at Braddoc, trying to take a measure of the dwarf. If, indeed, they were searching for the same thing, as it seemed they were, then perhaps they could partner. After all, two against three was better odds than one against four. The dwarf looked stout enough, but, that was common for his people. And, Tyr was sure Braddoc could wield the axe he carried. But, was the traveling dwarf trustworthy? That was the question, then.

Shrugging, he turned an eye back to the innkeeper. "I couldn't say for certain, but, it sounds very likely that this...Witch's Cave...is the same cave I'm searching for. I can't speak for him.." He turned his gaze back to Braddoc. "Well, friend. Does this sound like the cave you are seeking out? It sounds to me as if it very well may be, considering we heard the same tale. If so, perhaps we should become partners in this endeavor? If there are already three others searching for it, and ourselves, there's no telling how many others may be out there with the same goal. Might better our odds if we search together?"

He leaned back in his chair once more and took a swallow of mead. This could prove to be an adventure, after all.
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Old September 25, 2018, 11:03 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Braddoc soaked up the information from the innkeeper. Every fresh detail was scrutinised against the path the teenager had taken and he had written down. He leaned in towards the innkeeper as a sunflower would turn to face the life-giving orb in the sky and once the realisation came that he was playing catch-up it pronounced a quiet sigh, for he did not want it to become a theme in his journeys.

Pivoting on the balls of his feet he took another swig of his water, which would be far more useful in the coming moments, before pronouncing to the innkeeper though he had directed his gaze back to the leaning figure “I am certain the Witch’s Cave is what we seek. I would have asked you innkeeper if you had lodgings for the evening, but now I must ask you to raid the pantry for that meal I requested and food for Tyr, son of Kjed. We need our energy if we are to give chase and close the distance!”

Braddoc swung the flask back to his hip as he extended out his hand in the same movement of landing his plump posterior on the chair facing Tyr to shake, to become partners on this adventure.
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Old September 26, 2018, 08:01 PM   #13 (permalink)
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The dorin nodded understandingly at Braddoc’s request, and picking up the cup he had drained with them, he prepared to leave for the kitchen. ”We’re between meals, so we’re not currently serving anything hot,” he said, ”but I believe we have some cold soup left, and we’ve bread, fruit, and cheese aplenty. And perhaps a sausage.” He looked back and forth between the two. ”Do you want just enough for your meal, or did you want some for the trip as well?”

Once the innkeeper had his answers to those questions, he would head briskly back to the kitchen to see to the patrons’ order, leaving Tyr and Braddoc to their planning. An examination of the dwarf’s map would verify that it led to the vicinity the innkeeper had described. And while the map was neither particularly detailed or reliably-scaled, it included a note that the cave was easily seen from atop “Bloodrock Cliff” near an old quarry.
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Old September 26, 2018, 09:32 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Tyr grinned at the dwarf's exuberance for the adventure ahead. He had to admit, he too felt some excitement. It had been far too long since he had felt the rush of combat, the excitement of adventure. And, with a name to attach to this cave he and Braddoc were seeking, and with the knowledge that others were searching for it as well, Tyr was feeling good about the chances of coming away a little richer. And, if not richer, then perhaps the thrill of combat would suffice.

"Kjeld, actually. Son of Kjeld," said as he stood and stretched his long limbs, then gestured to Braddoc in response to the innkeeper's query. He walked over to a window, leaning against the wall and peering out into the heat of the day. "So, my new friend. Do you have any ideas on how we might find this "Witches Cave?" He glanced back over his shoulder at the dwarf. "Whoever our rivals in this adventure are, they have a good headstart on us. And, they had a name to go with the place. If they had a name, they may also have a better idea of where to look than we do. "
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Old September 28, 2018, 12:12 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Braddoc pondered if cold soup on a hot day appealed to him… It did not. He asked for as much of the bread, cheese, fruit and sausage that the coin he had already paid would procure. Retrieving from deep within his pack the least used pair of cloths, he laid one over another making a space that he could wrap the food up and take with him to share on the road. He had decided within a few seconds that they could make use of the afternoon by covering more ground before finding a place to camp, possibly close to the caves.

Leaving his pack open ready to be weighed down now by food rather than the white rum he walked up to the other side of the window that Tyr was leaning against. Holding up the note to the light he motioned with his fingers the crude drawing, the coarse hair that was not contained by the ends of his sleeves brushed against the parchment “I think we have to take a gamble. Using the same information that we have received now and taking a more direct route we can possibly find a way of entering the caves deeper. We have to keep our wits about us. There is no glory sitting around a tavern one day whimpering about when we broke our ankles falling into a cave. Are you willing to take the risk?”
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