Wetlands

After selling a myriad of looted items to the Aerie blacksmith, the bank guard grabbed my attention and pulled me to the side. She was in need of help and my reputation for acquiring trinkets preceded me.

"I don’t know what’s transpired in there, but I had nothing to do with it," I assured her.

"Beg pardon?" she replied.

"Nevermind, I spoke too soon," I said. "Do go on. How may I be of service? It’s not often a bank guard looks to me for assistance."

"I have heard you find things and don’t ask many questions. I need to find the key to the vault. In my drunken merriment, the key has escaped me and I’m not a liberty to leave my post and look for it."

"The vault key?" I questioned.

"Yes, where we store all the gold. I misplaced the key. Will you help me locate it?" She did indeed look desperate.

"Well, that is indeed quite a responsibility. But, very well. Describe said key and I shall make the magic happen."

She described the key and pointed toward the Dry Flagon, the location of the disappearance. When I arrived, I located a key in the street, and returned to hand it over. I put aside the temptation to use the key for my own gains as that would be dishonest, the Oracle would frown upon my wicked ways and it would be extremely difficult to explain to Alley why Stinging Tree had a new privy made of solid gold.

Much to my distress, the guard explained it was the wrong key. She begrudgingly admitted it might be boudoir key of her dance partner the previous evening.

"Say no more! I shall discreetly swap the keys," I said. I then returned to the tavern, explained the mixup to her companion, James, gave him a bit of wink and a nudge for putting the lass in such a state and asked for the proper key.

Again, my good deed was thwarted as he didn’t have the key either and must have given it to his Elven drinking companion.

"Egad man! What manner of tomfoolery went on last night? And where, pray tell, is this mysterious Elf you speak of? Let me track him down, retrieve the key and be on my way. I have vigilante plans to thwart."

James, send me to the Wetlands where his Elven drinking confederate took up residence.

"Steady on, he lives in a swamp?" I asked.

"He’s fallen on hard times," James replied.

"Very well, I’ve been to worse places. I will grab the key, toss him a few coins and be back by dusk. Still plenty of time to clobber some vigilantes," I replied.

Even if the poor chap had fallen on hard times, there were better places to take up residence than this gaseous wasteland. I resolved to offer him a place in my basement until he could improve his situation. That is, if he had the key on his person.

While in the wetlands, I discovered the real reason he was hiding in the swamp-black market mushroom farm. As I drew close to his crop for an inspection, the alarm was raised and dozens of ruffians came out to pummel my prying eyes.

The joke was on them though. While they sat idle in their little huts, I have been out honing my skills and quickly dispatched the lot of them. I hadn’t contended on their use of Caiman to protect the crop and was nearly drowned.

I quickly regained my bearings and turned the cheeky miscreant into material I can use for boots. From there I made my way into the main camp and put a damper on their mushroom watching vigil.

I must admit, the spores were starting to get to me and I began to see dozens of locations where this ring leader Elf could be hold up. Aiming for the one in the middle I surged forward and as the effects wore off, I found his ramshackle hut. I kicked the door off the hinges and demanded he hand over the key. I wasn’t interested in his mushroom farm and would say nothing to the Aerie guard if he cooperated.

He immediately broke down and told me the hiding place of his key. He gave me the usual sob story of being a real estate and when the market took a downturn, he had to seek other means to sustain himself.

I frowned up his new found choice, but my task was to get the key. As I rummaged through his small room, I found the blueprint of his rather simplistic bank heist plot. I took the plans and confronted him with the evidence.

"I see what you were going to do," I said angrily. "It’s one thing to nab a wayward chalice or candelabra, but it’s bad business to try and make off with gold from the vault. If you want to run a mushroom farm, that’s your affair, but stealing gold to finance the operation is not something I can condone."

"Mushroom farm?" he exclaimed in surprise. "What mushroom farm?"

"Don’t insult me by denying it! And here I was taking pity on you to the point of given you a damp corner of my basement and blanket to tide you over. But no more! I’m taking this key and returning it to it’s rightful owner. And I’m destroying these ridiculous plans of yours. Everyone knows a bank heist is a three man job and you go in from the roof you imbecile! Front door indeed!"

I stormed off through the rank water, punched a few thugs that had regained their senses from my first thrashing and headed back to Aerie.

"Your key my good lady," I said to the guard. "And we shall speak no more of it. I’m sure you aren’t the first to lose a bank key to the wily ways and smooth talk of a tavern patron. But, let us hope it is the last."

"Wily ways? Smooth talking? Just what are you implying? It was an honest mistake. How dare you …"

"A good evening to you dear lady. While uniquely engaging, this little side venture has kept me from keeping justice and order in the realm. With night falling, the thugs come out and I need to be there to greet them. So if you will excuse me."

Her words of appreciation and admiration trailed off as I made my way out of town.

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Oh my, what do we have here? I’m beginning to see why this mysterious Elf is in hiding within this swamp.

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This must be harvesting and processing facility for their nefarious crop. Trying to throw me off the scent with their fishing cabins. There is no fishing in a swamp! This won’t fool anyone!

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

It’s time to put the dank and the rank behind me and look for something more upbeat and festive. To that end Alley and I got an invitation to a party in the South Celestial Wetlands. It sounded quite nice complete with fishing and a pig picking. I mean, who can say no to these sorts of things? I had assumed Wetlands was the colloquial term for water park and was ready to dip my toes in the refreshing water and sit on the shore with a hearty meal and frosty beverage.

It seems I was deceived.

The Wetlands turned out to be a swamp, a rather good looking swamp as far as swamps go, but a swamp none the less. But as they say, when life you throws you lemons, you need to throw them back and hit the bastard that started the fight right in the eye.

I turned a blind eye to some of the early warning signs such as the floaters I found when visiting the refreshment stand. These two chaps were face down in the swamp, dead drunk. But mostly just dead. I’m not sure if the hooch is that toxic because of the swamp water, if they got into a brawl, if their game of horseshoes became full contact or what the cause was. But it let me no choice but to fleece their pockets and buy my ale elsewhere.

I went to the center pavilion which turned out to be some sort of shrine with interesting Celtic crosses. Clearly this is not where the ale is served. But hope was not lost as we spied where the food was being cooked. Our hosts had gone all out and were roasting a pig over an open fire. It looked and smelled delicious. But things took and ugly turn over the type of sauce to use on the beast. I had suggested a simple tomato based one using the fresh garlic right here in the wetlands. They insisted it would be vinegar based mixed with mandrake root and I had no business or sophistication by even suggesting a tomato based coating. Things escalated quickly and it came to blows. Or rather, it came to bows.

I had to draw down on the Ruffian and silence his foolishness. He was going to ruin the entire meal with his half-baked, half-cocked ideas and I simply couldn’t stand for it.

It should be pointed out that firing bows in the middle of a BBQ, especially at your hosts is considered bad etiquette, regardless of the reason. My social gaff turned the party into a hornets nest wherein Alley and I stole a good portion of the roasted pig and fought our way out.

Since I’m a master with the stiletto, I carved out a portion of the shank and we legged it through the swamp. The Ruffians didn’t give chase and we quickly realized why. Alley and I ran smack dab into a den of Crocodiles, Bears and Wolves.

Let it be known that firing a bow while holding a pork shank is no easy task. It’s a precarious balancing act that when done right looks like poetry in motion. When done incorrectly, you’ll lose your lunch.

With this minor inconvenience out of the way, we dashed over to a fishing cabin we came across in our flight. While the cabin itself was quite homey although Spartanly furnished, I have to question why there is a fishing cabin deep in the swamp. What the hell kind of fish are you trying to catch out here? I think the people of this realm has a misunderstanding of fishing.

While the roasted pig was actually quite good, despite the lack of sauce and basting from those miserable sods, I have to admit this was not the picnic we had been expecting. If you get an invitation to a BBQ in the Wetlands, you might want to reconsider.

 

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Oh, this does not bode well for the quality of ale being served in this place. Another misguided drinking adventure that ends with people face down, drunk, in a swamp. It happens all to often these days. Got anything in your pockets I might be interested in?

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Ah well, this is more like it! This looks quite delicious and as we all know, a bit of BBQ sauce on the outside will spice this rascal up nicely. If you keep insisting on this ridiculous notion of using vinegar based sauces, I will have no choice but to knock some sense into you. Clearly your man has already tried to ruin lunch and Alley had to use the Death Touch of Persuasion on him. Let this be a lesson my good man!

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Oh, a lovely fishing cabin, out here in the swamp, where there’s no fish, just crocodiles. Hmm, I think something else is going on out here in the swamps. And where’s the boat? I can find a boat in a sewer, but it’s completely missing from a swamp? None of this makes sense!

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Get your own pork sandwich you scaly devil!

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Umm, why are the bones floating like that? Egad Alley, what did we eat?

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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