I remember why I don’t like big groups of people now, it seems to bring out the worst in us all when we are condensed into a small area. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy myself during the whole affair, but it’s definitely something I don’t seek out. I finished my last entry with the assumption that we would make our trades over the course of a few days, and be back on the road, I was mistaken. It appears we will be encamped here for some time, but at the very least, we will be able to apply our trades, hock whatever wares we have left, and more importantly, resupply.
We set up the wagons at Charlie’s house, which consisted of two decommissioned Sleeper Wagons and a Chuck Wagon. It was better than expected, and if necessary, we could probably repair the wagons for cheaper than buying them. After getting settled, Charlie essentially kicked us out to explore the city. It’s a really charming little town, Adobe housing and people moving back and forth through their daily lives, with everything possessing a weathered and hard feel to it, but still welcoming. I wasn’t wrong to make this my first stop in the frontier. The first thing on my list of things to do was to go find some tobacco. I ran out in Jaddah Yafif, and after last week, it seemed like a good idea to restock. I picked up a couple of pouches for my pipe, and a few cigars for going out in the field. After wandering the city for a bit, I managed to track down the second thing on my list, employment for my stay here. One “Scaled Badger” tavern was willing to hire me on as a cook. I wasn’t needed right away, so I could explore the fair this week, and make money next week, seemed like a good deal to me.
After securing some income, I went wandering again, this time it placed me in front of what looked like the most durable and defended building in the city, at roughly the same time as Thoorin oddly enough. The building in question was “The Quartermaster’s Surplus”, and it was definitely the most heavily armed building in the region, probably even including the imperial forts that dotted the roads. The building was filled with weapons of every type, some of which I’ve never seen before or even considered weapons. I made my purchase quickly, but decided to hang around and watch the confusion on the Quartermaster’s metal face as Thoorin bought, of all things, several shovels, one of which folds up. We browsed the wares for a bit, most of which we couldn’t hope to afford for a good long time.
While Thoorin was haggling for his… weapons, Lazarus joined us, apparently looking for a backup weapon as well after making his purchase of a medical kit for the caravan. He asked about firearms, being Calvin, that isn’t terribly surprising. Quartermaster went rummaging through the back and pulled forth the beautiful but no doubt unholy fusion of death known as the “Axe-musket”. I wanted one right then and there, until I heard the price. It would have to wait for now, but I get the sneaking suspicion that our entire staff will be sporting these in due time, judging by the way Lazarus and Thoorin’s eyes lit up, much like mine. Quartermaster put the weapon away, but he began discussing armor, one particular set of Calvish infantry armor caught Lazarus’s attention, and in the course of examining the armor, he made an off the cuff remark about Octavinas, which didn’t set well with Quartermaster, who was adorned in Octavian heraldry and design. He left in a hurry, and Thoorin and I followed at our own pace after we were done looking.
That evening, the fair started in earnest under the still very bright golden clouds floating along in a sea of pitch black sky.The streets were littered with games, food, merchants selling wares, trinkets, and the sights and sounds of a town overloaded with people trying to take it all in. Thoorin and I waded through the crowds, I followed him mostly because he seemed to part the people far easier than his short frame would suggest, it was probably the smell. The first place he went was directly toward the nearest and most pungent food stand. He ordered something that consisted of a large hollowed out roll filled with what I assume was meat. It also came with several sauces. Two of which he dumped into the meat slurry, the last one, Octavian Fish Paste by the smell of it, he tossed over his shoulder hitting some poor bugger in the back of the head several yards away. His next destination was some game of strength farther down the road. He won with ease on his second attempt, and was given a stiff parchment crown for his trouble.
A few minutes later, Lazarus spotting us somehow, comes over to us, beer in hand, grumbling about some trivia game that’s been rigged. In his anger, he starts mumbling the answers. when he’s done, I walk over to the booth and place my copper down on the table. Lazarus was correct with his answers, and because of that, I make back all the money I spent today, plus a little more. Thoorin walks up as I walk away, and answers all the questions, including the ones Lazarus got wrong, and walks away with 25 gold. Lazarus is fuming at this point, and I’m pretty sure he’ll catch fire if he gets any angrier. Thoorin drags him away from the taunting of the quiz-giver, and we are on our relatively merry way.
We come across another interesting game, a test of accuracy. I haven’t done much at this point, so I put my copper on the table and see what I can do. Lazarus is taunted into playing by the gamesman, and Thoorin is just having fun at this point. We’re each given three wooden balls, and the target is a large vase on a platform surrounded by smaller and closer vases. I test my throw on one of the smaller ones near the center vase, and it hits the back edge and bounces out. I throw again, this time giving it some backspin and make it into the large vase right before Lazarus’s shot, with Thoorin’s ball sinking in moments later. The gamesman is stunned, apparently it’s odd for three people to beat his game in such a short amount of time. Inside the vase is our prize, a tadpole roughly the size of a large housecat. apparently it will grow to the size of a horse eventually. I’m worried about what Lazarus will do to it, and I haven’t the skill to raise an animal, so we gave it to Thoorin to raise and care for. He immediately begins feeding it from the soggy bread-meat-sauce-thing.
Some time later, We found ourselves sitting off to the side on a bench, Thoorin and myself munching on our respective snacks, and Lazarus grumbling into the vase that held “Jaque”. The fair was still in full swing, and we were seated across from a set of cages filled with exotic animals. I was curious to see what forms of beasts would let themselves be captured alive so easily, but I was more concerned about keeping an eye on Lazarus. It was possible that his foul mood had clouded his judgement more than usual. I was snapped from my thoughts when I heard the sound of creaking metal over the murmur of the crowd. Thoorin stopped stuffing his face with his slurry, so I guess he heard it as well. Out of one of the cages comes this squat, bipedal toad thing with eyes each about as large as its head. The bystanders scrambled, and I had my bow drawn and ready in moments. Luckily, I forgot to leave it back at Charlie’s, but it didn’t turn out to be useful.
Thoorin and I moved to take down the creature before it could hurt anyone, but it never even tried to harm any of the fairgoers. From it’s perch on a food cart, he saw us approach slowly. I had an arrow notched and waiting for it to turn aggressive, but it never did. It did use what I would assume to be his natural defense, a searing light from it’s eyes. The owner was momentarily blinded, while Thoorin and I managed to cover our eyes just in time to save them. Even in his state, the owner asked us not to kill his creature, one he called a Cave Toad. Thoorin walks over to the creature and places his hand on it’s head.
It was at this moment Lazarus decided to join us. Unfortunately, he wanders into the light from the toad, and is immediately blinded as well. This does not stop him from trying to defeat the “vile monster that dares to assault the eyes of a Calvin”. I began to worry about his sanity when two things became apparent. One, he was still throwing bombs, and two, his last bomb was talking more than him. With the frog well in hand, I walked over to Lazarus, who was babbling something about the queen. I noticed something coming out of his ears at an alarming rate. I did the only thing I could think to do, I hit him in the face with a frying pan. I was intending to subdue him, so I could get a closer look at his injuries, but I won’t deny, hitting the chatty Calvin, especially with a large, dense piece of metal, was just too gratifying to pass up.
He reacted badly to my bedside manner, and started mixing another bomb. I hit him again before he could finish, and he slumped to the ground. I wasn’t a medical professional or healer in any sense of the word, but he did have something leaking from his ears, and Thoorin was busy with the frog. I tore some reags I found laying about, and stuffed them in his ears. At the very least, it would curb the fluid’s escape, whatever it was.We dragged Lazarus back to Charlie’s to make sure he wasn’t going to die from whatever the hell he did to himself. I could only assist so much as Thoorin began his rituals. They were fascinating to watch, but I can’t figure out why so much of that green slime is needed.
After about an hour, Lazarus emerged from the back room. He stood triumphant, while covered in green slime and tribal inks, and unfortunately for us all, nothing else. He immediately demanded to know what happened, and where his pants were. I could barely contain the laughter, Thoorin didn’t. Katarina, who was reading from a book looked up at the scene, and immediately buried her head farther in the book, muttering “I don’t want to know”. I managed to point to the pile of things we stripped from Lazarus, most of it being potions and vials and other things of that sort. He gathered them up and walked out of the room. Apparently, Charlie found it funny too, I could hear his laughter from the next room over.
Some time later, Lazarus returned, His flesh pink, but free of ink and goo. Thankfully, he was wearing pants. He continues right past a fresh wave of barely contained laughter, and closes himself in one of the rooms. I decide this is as good of time as any to get some sleep and head back to my cot. The door won’t budge though. Apparently Lazarus barricaded the door with a large mirror in an attempt to perform surgery on himself. He wouldn’t open the door until Cree basically chased him out. I stash my things, and a few moments later, Lazarus returns, apparently, his second option was to take up residence in the female quarters, Charlie kicked him out, and tossed him back into the room with us.
Later that night, I hadn’t really gotten any sleep, but the evening was still young. Most everyone had left the camp to go somewhere. I saw them all leaving, but I kind of wanted a break from the crowds at that point. About ten minutes after everyone else left, Lazarus bolts upright, and begins getting ready. Thoorin had mentioned what happened to his brain, so I threw on my shirt and pants, grabbed some basics out of my pack, and followed him, mostly to make sure he didn’t do something drastic or stupid. Since neither one of us knew where the rest of the camp had gone, Lazarus just started marching off in a direction. as we got closer to the city proper, I began noticing a distinct trail the others were leaving, and Lazarus wasn’t following it. I stopped him and pointed him in the right direction.
The path led us to a large tavern, which was surrounded by other caravan wagons and could be heard and seen from at least 150 yards in any direction. We walked in to see pretty much everyone from camp sitting at a table with three people I don’t recognize. I grab a chair and sit down, and order a coffee from a passing barmaid. The three people are introduced as The Mayor of Middleborough, The Commander of Tartarus Point, and a minor head and cleric of the Church of Joshua. Apparently, these are some of our backers. The conversation goes well, even with my direct, and Lazarus’s tactless introduction. We discuss the fair in more detail, I learn of a few new things to keep in mind, and I’ve learned that clerics have very good luck when it comes to cards.
It was about this time when something rather unbelievable happened. I heard a familiar voice boasting over the din of the crowd. It couldn’t have been, he bolted off into the desert a week ago, there was no chance that he survived that long, unless he was that tough, or that stupidly lucky. But sure enough, looking in the direction of the booming voice, I saw Gerrard sitting there. He looked a little worse for wear, like he had been chewed on by the Great Beast himself, but he was alive, and still had the spear he grabbed from the ruins. He saw us, and made his way over. We swapped stories on how we got there, and apparently I wasn’t far off with the “chewed on” expression. He was only alive because of his ability to ignore grievous wounds when necessary. He was actually rather lucky, apparently a whore cart came by and picked him up, healed him back to stable, and took him to Middleborough. the trip cost him about 12 gold though, a bill which he dropped onto the caravan. There was a discussion on whether or not we actually wanted him back. Lazarus was steadfast in his refusal, Thoorin wasn’t really happy to have him back, but he really didn’t care. Charlie didn’t care and Katarina wasn’t a decision making crew member anyway.
So, the decision came down to me, the unofficial employee and freeloader. I ran over the facts in my head. He has already saved my life on one occasion, so I owe him for that. He is a violently effective combatant, and apparently tough enough to survive the frontier alone and injured. However, he is the direct cause of the most dangerous direct threat to the caravan, and he caused it against the wishes of the rest of the crew and through his own stupidity. A threat, which drove us off course, nearly killed me, and put us in the path of Blackbeak, Death’s Stranger, and an assortment of other highly lethal things. The best thing to come out of that was the discovery of an Umbral Road, but I don’t plan on mentioning that wherever there are possible prying ears. Even with the Fieand Bear incident, there was only one conclusion.
With the final decision in my hands, I allowed him back, but before I did, I pulled out my frying pan and hit him squarely in the face, with a warning to not do something that moronic ever again. I’ve been getting some good mileage out of that thing lately, but none of it for cooking. he reset his broken nose and agreed. After which, the small cleric broke out her deck of cards again, and we began to play a hand of Caravan. The end of the game revealed something else about the purpose of the game, which I didn’t know before, it is often used to tell the player’s fortune. I ended last, tied with Gerrard, with a fortune I honestly sort have expected. It was “Your travel will be difficult, and your trials many, but the rewards that await you are great.”
After the game ended, we parted ways and headed back to Charlie’s. Not much had changed in the long run, we have a new pet and an old idiot. Most of us have some new gear. Most importantly to me, I have something at this fair to look forward to. during the conversation, I heard of a nomad tradition in this area taking place in a few days. It was a hunt. the game was a stag. It’s a ritual to one of the tribesman deities, but that doesn’t really concern me. What does is the large pot to be won by whoever brings back the stag first. It’s a chance for me to test my skills, and also get some funding for the caravan. I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity. I’ll probably have to be at my best though, I’ll be against locals who know the terrain, and against hunters with far more experience under their collective belts than I. This will truly be a test of skill, and I don’t intend to fail. It’s been a long time since I have been this excited for a hunt. Maybe it’s the area, with it’s ever present smell of danger. Who can say