Our group of five new friends: Torrik (angsty teenaged dwarf), Gax (big loveable human sorcerer that makes end meet like a bard), Magnus (Shy human artificer from Bard’s Harbor, the next largest city in the Northern Reach after NorthWood), Sidron (a spell slinging 1/2 hobgoblin wizard), and Zattera (an olive skinned human pirate who has sailed northward and into adventure) have spent the last 11 or so days scraping by. Gax has spent the time using his musical ablities to secure food and lodging for himself and then sneaking the rest of his new-found friends into his accommodations for the night. They’re caught pulling this stunt in one Inn and Gax is banned from performing there again. Sidron and Zattera have a scrap of gold they managed to procure during their last adventure together so they use what meager funds they have to supplement the group’s food stuffs. Each of our adventurers receives a personal invitation, delivered by a young elf servant known as Varon, to meet with Marast Illay, a female sorceress and proprietor of the mysterious shop known as “The Curio”. They’re all invited to a the Diamond Spider Tavern on New Years for a dinner to discuss the possibility of forming a business partnership of some sort.
They continue to be hounded and pursued by the press-gangs looking to conscript them into the king’s army, a fate none of them are eager to embrace. Close calls are had: Gax nearly snatched from the performing stage one night, Torrik nearly taken in shackles but he slipped through a broken sewer grate and fled to freedom. New Year rolls around and in accordance to the customs of the Northern Reach gifts are given: Zattera, Sidron, Magnus, and Gax having prepared special presents for their companions… Torrik like any good teenager receiving but not reciprocating.
After exchanging gifts the group cleans up and makes their way to The Diamond Spider Tavern for their meeting.
Meanwhile: in even less comfortable parts of the city Wolrf (mysterious human barbarian from the Barrens) and Jung (female 1/2 orc ranger) wake up chilled and damp under a city-bridge. Jung has prepared a New Year gift for her new friend as well: a rat tail carefully wound around a fish-hook. “This should give you good luck near water,” she says as she gives Wolrf his present. Wolrf unaccustomed to the customs of the more civilized peoples of the Northern Reach has nothing to give in return. Digging through his possesions he presents Jung with a single ball bearing, “Here,” he says handing it to her. They too have been chased by the press gangs both ducking through alleys many times over the past several days. Wolrf even being forced to lay in a frigid, nasty drainage ditch to avoid capture for hours one day. They two have been visited my Marast’s servant Varon and given invitations. They too make their way to The Diamond Spider for the meeting.
Wolrf and Jung arrive first with the band of five arriving shortly afterwards. The warmth, sounds, and smells of a lively tavern greet them. Patrons mill about drinking ale, mead, and wines. Friendly (but competitive) games of throwing daggers are taking place. The welcome heat of a warm fire wraps around them. All are welcomed by Spider Braz, the proprietor of the establishment and escorted to a private dining room, Varon stands outside the closed door. Varon opens the door and waves them in, inside a table is laden with a feast and Ms. Marast Illay awaits them. They take places around the table, finding a fresh orange under each of their elegantly set table-napkins.
Marast invites them to eat and they can discuss business on full stomachs. Torrik refuses to dine so Marast relents and begins negotiations before dinner. She presents them with a newly acquired Mercenary-Writ (this legal document allows those working under it to do mercenary work AND exempts them from conscription). She lets them know that she’s looking for business partners, she has an empty warehouse space she will provide as a base of operations for a mercenary company and she’ll maintain the writ for the company (a process fraught with legal red-tape). In exchange the company will operate a mercenary business of which she will get 20% of the income. She also has a few “standing-jobs” for them one of which is that if the ever come across a “god-shard” (a very powerful magical weapon capable of slicing through even the strongest of armor as if it wasn’t there) and bring it to her she will pay them the sum of 10,000 gold pieces. Other jobs from her will likely be presented and those fees are free from her 20% cut and the rate of pay for the job will be negotiated for each of the jobs.
The party ask some questions, think it over and agree. As they’re signing the paperwork the thunder of many footfalls rushing into the tavern fill the room. Varon opens the door to the private room a crack and asks, “Do we have business partners?
Marast holds the freshly signed Writ up, “Yes, Yes we do.”
With a smile and a flourish Varon steps aside and throws the door open wide. A large press gang is crowded into the tavern, eagerly positioning themselves to capture the people inside the private room. The captain of the press gang pushes into the room ecstatic that they’ve landed such a skilled haul of future soldiers! Marast politely informs them that these folks are a legal mercenary company and are therefore not eligible for conscription… Torrik impolitely communicates with the captain using only the crudest of sign-language. As the Press Gang makes their way from the tavern Zattera calls out with his own “encouraging” words for them. Mirth and laughter abound at the table, ale and fruit-wines are consumed in moderate to large quantities. Merriment flourishes even more as Marast informs her new business partners that she’s not comfortable starting a new business with partners under such a crush of debt and fines, so she will have them paid off in the morning!
As the evening passes the new mercenary company makes their way to a nearby Inn where Marast has arranged for a nights warm and safe lodging for them.
The following week is spent settling into their new space. Marast owns a building 150′ long, 45′ wide’ and 35′ tall. Her shop and domicile is in one end of the building, being 30’x45′. Her shop a small and cluttered shop full of junk and very eclectic items. at the back of the shop, behind the counter, an opening covered by a curtain separates the back of the place from the front. She provides the company with 300gp to start renovations and they set to work. The split up their large section of the building (installing a second floor in part of it) into an office/meeting space, a work/training space, and a living space. As they work they set Gax up to welcome any potential clients who may stop by their new business. Marast brings them some prospects of “City work”: jobs the city farms out to mercenaries, and a single customer swings by towards the end of the week. He’s a distinguished human male with salt & pepper hair. He offers them work fetching a new piece for his collection… Giving them a brief description of an exotic animal he wants dead or alive…
They meet together to discuss their options and decide to eschew the boring dependable work and reach out to this gentleman and prepare to go monster hunting!