Shroud of the Avatar

Now that the pesky and soon to be forgotten fungus, flea and pestilence problems are behind us, The Pickled Spinster Inn of Stinging Tree Hollow, is now offering rooms to adventurers, refugees and those in the midst of a flight from justice.

We offer grand amenities for Outlanders to rest their weary heads and store recently unearthed antiquities from the constabulary until they can be properly appraised and safely carted away under the cover of darkness. Carts and absconding labor not included in the cost of a room.

We are located just down from Kingsport, across from Deep Ravenswood and upwind from the swamps. Our room rates are affordably low with a current price of zero. Not all adventurers have established themselves with pockets of coins and would like to be of assistance. We also can’t guarantee you won’t wake up dead in the morning, so this seems the best compromise.

If you are interested in accommodations before continuing the next leg of your journey, or need “sanctuary” because you are innocent of all charges, feel free to send myself or Alley Oop, a missive by post or carrier pigeon and a room shall be fumigated and prepared. Rooms come unfurnished, but the bar is stocked and both the crafting pavilion and the Public Chest of Cast Off Riches and Overstocked Items are available for your crafting needs. Not responsible for any crafting related mishaps that might arise.

For those who feel more at home and safer within the confines of a penal establishment, the Bastille of Stinging Tree Hollow is also available and comes complete with bedroll, bowl of gruel and pillory that faces the morning sun.

Serving the realm since 519 or thereabouts.

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Now that we have those incidents behind us, let us throw open the doors of the Inn to masses. Even comes with servicable bathtub and wooden ducky.

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For those that might need a little more confinement in there lives, the Bastille makes a lovely choice. Featured fumigated bedrolls, water bucket privy and spacious basement for storing items the constabulary isn’t supposed to see.

We can’t do anything about the Town Drunk next door, but he’s harmless. For the most part. We think.

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

Through my many travels of the realm, doing good deeds for the variety of citizens I meet and exacting vengeance by plundering wrong-doers for their terrible crimes, I have been rewarded with a treasury of trinkets, baubles and tokens of esteem I have accepted as generous outpourings of affection. I still question how that bandit stored a plow in his leggings, but nevertheless, I find myself at an impasse.

I no longer have the space or good decorating sense to keep all these wondrous gifts. To that end, I wish to share the wealth of my grand exploits with all who come to pay a visit to Stinging Tree Hollow.

Located at our incredibly stylish crafting pavilion, decorated by Alley Oop herself, is the new Public Chest of Cast Off Riches and Overstocked Items.

Contained within are vast stores of riches from the finest bandit camps, crypts and ruins in the land. I dare say we even have some reagents that probably haven’t expired. For those looking for a bargain, feel free to take whatever tickles your fancy and completes your decorating ensemble.

On the reverse side, if you find yourself encumbered with one too many fancy paintings, pair of leggings or bottles of wine, feel free to discreetly empty your pockets before beginning your next exciting adventure.

The chest is available night and day, so have a peek for something of benefit.

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Huzzah! Fabulous wealth and treasure for those brave enough to open the trove and look inside.

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

As I strode in to Owl’s Head to conclude a rather delicate transaction with the public vendor, I noted the not too long forgotten Tour Guide standing off in the shadows.

“Well good evening, Tour Guide! Fancy meeting you here! I had anticipated after our last encounter where you nearly got me incinerated, mauled by a bear and attacked by thugs that our paths would not cross again. But, here you are, most likely with some sort of trinket that necessitates my harrowing escape from a myriad of enemies and nefarious types out to do me harm? What has brought about your return? Come now, out with it!”

“Good evening Outlander! I do indeed have another exciting and thrilling tour of the realm for you. There will new places to explore, and wonders galore! And when complete, you will get this fabulous, limited edition, hand crafted Cloak of the Shardfall. I can tell by that twinkle in your eye, I have your interest.”

“Oh my dear Tour Guide!” I replied. “Why do you tempt me so? You know my fondest for cloaks! You know I can’t resist the temptation to add another to my collection, even when it means I might lose my life, or worse yet, my dignity. Very well, give me the details! Spare me nothing! Keep me in suspense no longer! Who am I up against this time? Do I have to rob a dragon nest? Steal the loin cloth off a troll? Abscond with the unmentionables of a Cabalist minion?”

“Well, Outlander, I can’t deny those are all fine ideas and worthy of future quests, but I have something far different in mind this time. This is a real tour this time and all you need to do is visit my confederate in the town of Westend, Brookside, Etceter, Brittany and #@$%.”

“Beg pardon there Tour Guide? I think you got a little something stuck in the clockwork gears there. That last location didn’t quite come out.”

“No, there was no error. You merely need to go to #@$%.”

“I see your game. You’ve somehow lost the destination of my final visit and I will have to somehow divine the answer by connecting seemingly unrelated and random sets of information. Very well. Since there is a cloak on the line, I’m willing to play along.”

And with that, I sped to the Lunar Rift and hurled myself to the destination of Westend. To my great delight I was not mauled, stabbed or pummeled with arrows. I was in a civilized town and the Tour Guide watched patiently for me with no sign of thugs or skeletons waiting to leap out at me as soon I got too close.

The other destinations were as equally not fraught with danger. I was even able to take a moment for a light repast at the local tavern before continuing on my way. But as I neared the conclusion of my journey, the final location of the Tour Guide eluded me. I sat in the tavern going over my parchments trying to deduce where he might be hiding.

Using my adventurer skills and past experiences, I plotted my course, connected the lines, triangulated my position relative to the Oracle, drew a curve through all the locations and came to the conclusion that although it made a fine drawing of a drunken condor, it would not help me locate the final hiding place of the Tour Guide.

In desperation I kicked my chair, slammed my fist and toppled my ale. This only lead to further desperation and I hurled the parchment to the floor with great impunity.

As it floated to the floor, I realized the picture was upside down. The answer stared back at me, almost tauntingly, and I dashed from the pub! I then quickly returned to the pub to pay my drinks bill lest there be trouble with the local constabulary and another tavern be added to the list of establishments I’m no longer able to visit.

With that crisis averted, I anxiously waited at the Lunar Rift. I repeatedly checked my sundial, but due to the time of night, it was of little value and time passed even more slowly.

But then the moment was at hand, the gleaming bolt of light struck the cairn stone and I leapt in with a wail of glee.

“Tour Guide! I knew I would find you in the Isle of Storms! It’s the last place anyone would look for you, and thus the last place that came to mind. Other than you being located in a respectable public house or that house of ill repute we aren’t supposed to talk about.”

“Greetings Outlander! I’m glad you’ve come to pay me a visit. I feared no one would play along and come to say hello. I can’t say I blame them, I have put you and your kind to the hazard and caused a bit of grievous injury along the way.”

“Indeed you have my blue metal miscreant. But let us put all that behind us as you reward me with a fabulous new cloak!” I said excitedly. “I’ve been to all the locations. I’ve checked in with your comrades. I even had them write it down in my book of mischievous and exciting deeds. I have proof of where I’ve been! It won’t stand up in a court of law, just keep that in mind, but it should suffice for this adventure!”

“Congratulations to you Outlander! Take this cloak and wear it well. Be a shiny beacon of adventurous skill and questing fortitude! And don’t forget to tell your friends I’m out here.”

With that, the Tour Guide gave an enviable flourish as he draped the Shardfall Cloak around my shoulders. I was giddy with excitement and silky trim of the collar was an extra treat.

“It looks quite fetching on you Outlander. Wear it well!”

“Wear it? Are you daft? It could get soiled! Cut! Snagged by some street urchin! Dear me no! This will go on the wall with my other collection of cloaks. I shall admire it for many a day and only don it on special evenings.”

“Well, as pleases you Outlander. Thank you kindly for dropping by. Perhaps you could drop in from time to time and tell me how things fair in the rest of the realm?” he asked, rather longingly.

“Is there another cloak in it for me?” I asked. “And will you let me have it without needlessly risking my life?”

“Perhaps,” he answered.

“Then I shall be back in due course and will regale you with my grand adventures!” Then I sped off toward the Rift once again and gave a wave to the Tour Guide as I disappeared into the ether of the realm.

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Huzzah! Another beautiful cloak to add to my collection! And I didn’t get mauled, set on fire, or stabbed in my kidneys! That makes this one even more special!

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

On my way back from Tenebris Harbor, I was reminded that I needed to pay a visit to the ever vigilant Ivar in the city of Kiln. He made mention that something has tainted the water supply and if I would be so kind as to have a look.

Just as he was from my last visit, Ivar stood by the cistern waving his arms frantically to get my attention.

“Creatures! Elementals! The lost alchemist!” he sputtered.

“Yes indeed Ivar, many terrible things lurk down there and you wish me to risk my life and have a wee bit of peek?” I said.

“Well, a bit more than just a peek if you don’t mind. Perhaps you could bring an end to whatever is sullying the water and setting the ale to an undrinkable state?” he commented.

“Sorry? The ale in Kiln is undrinkable?” I demanded.

“Well, yes. The water is tainted and so the ale supply is running dangerously low. In some varietals, we have nothing to offer at all,” he replied looking quite glum.

“That is unconscionable! This will not stand! Why didn’t you inform me the situation was this dire? Step aside my dear fellow, Sir Mud Pie and I will soon set matters right!” And without further commentary on the matter, we descended the ladder and entered the murky space.

Right away I could smell the foul air of evil doers hanging thick. Their stench is unmistakable and burns the eyes. But we pressed on through the labyrinth looking for the lost alchemist.

Several wrong turns were made until we found a handy, but stern note warning us not to fiddle with the water levels and that we should keep our filthy hands off the switches and valves.

Just for that, I spun the closest valve with great vigor. To my surprise the water level began to rise, doors began to swing and pathways began to open. Realizing this was a deadly trap and we would surely die a horrible death from drowning, I encouraged Mud Pie to make a hasty retreat.

But it was a hopeless endeavor as I had already taken a dizzying number of lefts, followed by incalculable rights and lost my path of retreat. We had no choice but to press on in order to find an exit and make our escape. I theorized we could turn the bad fortune of Kiln to our advantage.

I know many a brewmaster throughout the land and have even been known to brew a batch myself. That salmon ale should not be counted against me however. Mud Pie and I could easily establish ourselves as importers, put this sword-wielding adventurer life behind us, and retire with fabulous riches. But then I conjured an image of the Oracle shaking her stoic head at my profiting from the misfortune of others and dismissed the idea. She has no problem at my profiting from looting their corpses, but some lines shouldn’t be crossed.

With torch held high, we snaked our way through various tunnels that all looked the same until we came to a vast chamber that certainly looked to be the location of many ill deeds. Whenever there is a large opening underground, purveyors of naughtiness will assemble.

Much to my excitement, there was a lever, and as we all know, one of the greatest thrills in the realm is to pull an unknown lever to see what happens.

This one did not disappoint and the water began to recede. I hurled myself off the platform and made my way to the new opening that had appeared. Salvation was only a short swim away.

Alas, this lead us deeper into the cistern and covered me in some sort of unidentifiable sludge. Mud Pie was unfazed as he is always covered in some sort of sludge. That’s why he has to sleep outside.

We then went up the ramps, around the bends, through the murky tunnels and down the ladders. The entire endeavor is a sad blur as I later discovered from the healers, I contracted several diseases previously thought to be eradicated, which had caused some memory loss, problems with my lavatory functions and a disdain for pork pies. The first two don’t trouble me, but I’m quite sure I’m a fan of pork pies.

I do recall running into several very ill-tempered water elementals that unleashed watery fury on us. Their resilience to fire and ice still puzzles me. And their ability to heal against my repeated and robust stabbing was troubling.

I also have a faint glimpse of finding the alchemist, lying face down in the gutter. As is my way, I stole his notes and several artifacts for later bartering. It seems the daft loner decided to create elementals to help with the labor. Apparently they grew tired of his company and turned their watery, idle hands to mischief. From what I recall of the living conditions, I can see why.

While there was a lot of spinning of valves, pulling of levers, and jumping off ladders, the exact sequence escapes me, but the healer says my memory of events should return in a few years when my festering diseases have run their course. It’s all fine with me. I lived to tell the tale, even if I can’t recall enough of the details to actually tell the tale correctly.

After defeating the rampaging elementals and fleecing the alchemist, we made our way back to the surface. Ivar must have acknowledged we put matters right as he gave me a fine framed parchment as a gift for my good deeds. He also gave me a bundle of healing herbs before sending me on my way. At least I hoped they were healing herbs and I hadn’t simply laid down to eat some roots in my state of delirium.

It’s quite a fine piece that I have placed next to the one I got from that strange lady of the woods. I must admit the exact nature of the message they inspire is lost on me, but it’s a noble home decoration and that’s what’s important.

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Well, these are quite lovely. I will have to get Alley to translate them for me one day.

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

Realizing my future seaworthy vessels would not be found in Penmawr, I traveled down the road to another seafaring town I had heard about, Tenebris Harbor. There had been rumors of a rough sea life, brawling pirate types and the occasional outbreak of swashbuckling. I’ve been in worse, and even caused worse, so I was undeterred.

Turns out the stories were a dash mild and while they had many fine vessels, most of them were on fire. In fact, many things were awash with flame and I felt my appearance was quite ill-timed.

Thinking I might be of assistance, or at least in time to attend a few going out of business sales, I followed the path which should lead me to the docks. But before I had traveled far, I was met by an old prospector hold up in a make shift trauma center.

Several guards were in a rather sad state with unfortunate wounds and terrible tales of being overrun, assaulted violently, and called some questionable names. They were trying to restore order, but making a bad show of it. When speaking to the guard and asking how I might be of assistance, I was informed I could do my part by slashing the pirate invaders to the ground.

“Beg pardon?” I retorted. “So, you’re saying I have free reign to slash anyone I meet on the street into the ground? And there will be no repercussions? No time in the Clink? No penalties paid out in gold coins?” I inquired.

“Well, within reason,” the guard corrected. “We can’t have a free for all. There will be no assaulting the local constabulary, I can’t condone that sort of behavior. But, if you find scoundrel pirates and ne’er-do-wells causing mischief in the streets and take retribution on our behalf, then yes, I believe we can see clear of pressing any charges against you,” he affirmed.

“Brilliant!” I exclaimed. “Point me toward danger!”

Seeing my enthusiasm, the Prospector offered up my first commission.

“Since you’re in the mood to wave the steel around, I have an offer for you,” he said. “These blasted pirates ran me out of my home before I could my lucky nugget. What say you swing over to my place, rough up a few dirty scoundrels, kick a few of those unsavory chaps right where it hurts and bring my nugget back to me. My house is right over there,” he said pointing.

I looked at the guard for confirmation on dishing out retribution at the end of a flaming sword. His shrug of the shoulders was the very answer I was looking for.

“Very well, I will head that way, slash anyone who gets in my path and return this lucky nugget of yours in due time.”

This proved to be far more difficult than I first surmised as these ruffians travel in packs and fight in a most disagreeable style. As I approached what I believed to be the correct domicile, I was assaulted in the backside by not one, but three arrow wielding marauders. They were debilitating shots and extraordinarily uncomfortable in my still healing hindquarters.

Turning to defend myself, sword carrying ruffians leapt from the shrubs and set upon me. I was immediately and unmercifully outnumbered. But fire is the great equalizer and soon a couple of the roughs were smoldering at my feet.

I struggled to reach the ruffian archers, suffering the sling of their arrows. And when I got hold of them, my revenge was piping hot! We won’t go into the myriad vulgarities that ensued. It is sufficient to note I made my displeasure known and cast aspersions upon them, their family, friends and several other people who they may, or may not have known.

I then traversed the open pavilion and entered the dwelling. More surprises awaited as some undead had come home to roost. I had barely stepped inside when they went for my jugular, swinging like oafs, and smashing up the place.

Since it was already in disarray, I felt little guilt over further adding to the disheveled nature. Some lettuce, a bookshelf and a candelabra were swept up in my fury, but in the end, my Whirling Blades dispatched the entire horde. I will apologize for scarring the counter.

I then began to search in earnest. I marveled at the idea of finding a gold nugget worthy of risking my life, but nothing of the kind revealed itself. I looked in the drawers, under the bed, even in the storage room. I sawing nothing that matched the description. Those mangey pirates had already absconded with it!

But I had fleeced each one of them thoroughly and found nothing. I must be looking in the wrong place. And then, as I upset a stack of crates, and splintered a bookshelf rife with  bunkum novels, I found something.

“Want manner of trinket is this?” I asked finding a mounted rabbit on the floor. The small inscription read, “Lucky Nugget”.

“A rabbit? His lucky nugget is a rabbit? I’ve been hoodwinked! I’ve been flimflammed! This isn’t some outrageously sized gold nugget worthy of this level of destruction and mayhem. It’s a stuffed bunny! And the only good stuffed bunny is that of the Death Bunny!”

In a fury, I scooped up the rabbit trophy, tucked it under my arm, punched a ruffian so hard I looted his gold coins before his body hit the ground, and stormed off to see the Prospector.

But my rage softened as the Prospector was brought to tears at the sight of his lost compatriot.

“Oh, my Lucky Nugget!” he wept, dropping to his knees. “Here have some coins!” he said shoving a purse of coins into my hands. Then clasped the bunny to his breast and twirled like a child on a fine summer day. “Bless you Outlander!” he exclaimed then threw himself into a frenzied dance.

I was without words and watched in amazement as the old man gyrated in a bizarre, but hypnotic dance.

“Well then,” I said composing myself. “I’m glad I could be of service. But, perhaps I should move along and get on with the pirate smiting I shan’t be punished for. A good day to you, and my compliments on the fine dance move you’ve displayed this day. It was truly a sight to behold and something I won’t soon forget, of that I assure you.”

I then readied my sword and plunged into the heart of the city.

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Ah ha! This must be the place. Random shanty, thugs hiding in the thicket, death around every corner. Onward to treasure and fortune!

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What the what? This is no priceless chunk of gold ore! You are quite the trickster Mr. Prospector!

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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