Many yawns and lots of stretching accompanied the sounds of us packing away our tents and gathering our belongings, but anticipation and excitement was also palpable. This was to be the last leg of our journey. Today we would reach Baldur’s Gate. While I was excited to finally reach one of the most famous cities along the Sword Coast and be able to perform there in the Wide, I was also very glad that we would be getting rid of Kuris. Once he was gone, Briss could put away the gem and I’d stop feeling so dull and out of touch with everything. Since I had been unable to practice many of the spells I was still working on, I had time to research a couple more from my brother’s old spell book. I now had a couple of more spells in the works and was very excited about getting to try them out properly.
As we began the final stretch of our route to Baldur’s Gate, everyone seemed to be in higher spirits than we had been before. It also seemed like Thom had grown very emotionally attached to our new pet goat – Todd. However, this good mood didn’t last long. When we began to walk through another region of farmland, an Ankheg appeared in front of us and reared up, showing its full height. The sight of the Ankheg shocked Grelda (who was already heavily under the influence of alcohol, unsurprisingly) so greatly that she collapsed onto the floor in front of us. I knelt down next to her and gently shook her in an attempt to wake her up, but she was pretty deeply into an alcohol induced stupor. Placing Kuris next to her, I ushered Briss over and she put the gem in Grelda’s hand as we moved away, allowing me to actually use my magic while still incapacitating the gnome.
I tried to cast a Lightning Strike at the threatening Ankheg, but missed. Lightning managed to hit around it, but not the actual beast itself. Half of the daggers Briss threw managed to hit, lodging themselves into its fleshy underbelly. The Ankheg screeched in pain and then bent forward, grabbing the person closest to it. This happened to be Thom. Its pincered ripped through his armour, biting straight into him and it began to drip acid on to him, injuring him further. Derrin ran forward and made to stab the creature with his sword, but somehow managed to trip over, hitting the floor before he could land a blow. Thom tried desperately to remove himself from the Ankheg’s grip, but his attempts were futile. As I watched this all unfold, I cast a Magic Missile towards the beast and actually managed to hit it this time. One of its antenna fell off and Briss tried to throw a dagger, but it fell short. Derrin pulled his axe from his back and managed to land some very good blows before trying to follow them up with his sword and missing.
“For God’s sake!” Thom yelled as he managed to get enough weight behind his sword and plunged it into the Ankheg, piercing its armour and causing it to shriek. As it did so, I pushed both my hands out in front of me and muttered the incantation for a spell I hadn’t really used before – one that I was still working on. The ground seemed to split beneath the Ankheg and it dropped to the floor, flailing and screaming, believing itself to be falling down. Thom seized this opportunity to free himself and jumped out of the jaws of the beast whilst jumping past my illusion. The ground had most definitely not torn itself apart beneath the creature and I couldn’t help but smirk slightly as I made a mental note to keep working on this Phantom Chasm spell.
Briss threw another knife at it, managing to once again lodge it in the Ankheg’s underbelly. Unfortunately, that’s when the Ankheg realised that the phantom chasm beneath was just that. It rolled itself over so it was no longer on its back and then it made a move for Derrin. The Ankheg’s pincers missed him by a hair’s width, but some of its acid landed on the ranger, burning him greatly. He managed to get away and got himself up the nearest tree, safely away from the beast.
The next thing I knew, Thom was running past with Todd tucked under his arm. He placed the goat in the Ankheg’s eye line and waited until it lunged towards it so he could fire his crossbow. The bow pierced its armour and wedged itself in the animal, stopping it from grabbing Todd. With a flick of my wrist, I cast Nightmare Eruption at the Ankheg and watched at writhed around for a couple of seconds before it curled into a ball and died. This was moment Grelda finally came round.
“What did I miss?” she asked, frantically scrambling to her feet whilst keeping the gem tightly in her fist. “Is it dead already?…why do I have the gem? Why is Derrin in that tree?”
“We’ll explain on the way,” I said as Derrin climbed down and began to take the Ankheg’s armour. Thom ran towards Todd and began comforting the goat, who didn’t really seem that stressed, while Briss ran around to collect her daggers. Once we gathered our belongings and place Kuris back on Todd, we once again walked towards Baldur’s Gate.
It was two hours before we arrived at the gate of our destination. A couple of the Flaming Fists stood guard and stepped in front of us as we approached. They appraised each of us carefully before one of them spoke.
“Why are you here?” he asked. There was a small pause, where it was clear that no one really knew how to answer his question, before I took a step forward and replied.
“I’m an entertainer,” I said and flicked my hand to my saide, conjuring some sparks and coloured spirals to appear from my fingertips.
“You’ll do well in the wide,” he replied as he nodded at my little trick. “A lot of the performers hang around there. It’s a good spot. The circus is also in town. You might want to check it out.”
“Thanks!” I was about to step through, when I caught a glimpse of the bound gnome sat on top of the goat. “Oh, we also have this gnome here with us. He was doing some very amoral experiments on some elementals in his tower. We managed to subdue him and free the elementals, but we thought we’d hand him over to you to decide his punishment.”
“Right…okay,” the guard said, eyeing the gnome wearily. “Follow me.” He lead us all to the nearest Flaming Fist outpost and took Kuris into custody. “I’m going to need to take down one of your names. Just in case there’s a further inquiry.”
“Uhhh.” I looked around at the other, who studiously avoided my gaze and sighed before replying. “Alyona. My name is Alyona.” The guard scribbled my name down on the piece of parchment before dismissing us. We all left the outpost and the gem Briss had been using the keep Kuris subdued crumbled in her hand. I felt about ten times better when it broke, although I was slightly disappointed it had. It would have been a useful thing to have around.
“We should head to the Three Kegs and get some rooms if we’re going to be staying here a while,” Derrin suggested as we made our way into the heart of the city.
“You guys go ahead. I’ve got some business to take care of first. I’ll pay you guys back for the room later, if that’s okay?” Thom asked, slowly breaking away from the group, taking Todd with him. I nodded back and then watched his retreating figure for a moment and then moved to catch up with the others.
“I completely forgot that Thom had some business here,” I commented, walking beside Derrin.
“Yeah, I didn’t ask when you two mentioned you were heading here. I probably should have, now that I think about it,” he replied.
Laughing I shook my head slightly and said, “Don’t worry about it. I think we were all a little caught up with what was happening. I’m just here to do some more performing. I learnt all I could back in the Dalelands.” He nodded and smiled at me, holding my gaze before looking straight forward again and giving directions to Briss and Grelda.
It wasn’t a hugely long walk to get to the Three Kegs, but once we entered it took us almost as long to make it to the bar. The tavern was packed with people and noise was very close to unbearably loud. Derrin charged forward, moving people out of the way and managing to clear a path to the bar that Briss, grelda and I followed. The four of us stood at the bar, waiting to catch the barman’s attention, but it was again quite a while before he made his way over to us.
“What can I do for you?” he asked, wiping down the part of the bar we were stood at.
“Do you have any rooms free?” Derrin asked and leant forward so he could hear the man’s answer over the hubbub of noise that filled the room.
“I’ve only got three rooms left, mate. 2 gold pieces a night.” Derrin looked back at the three of us and I shrugged my shoulders while nodding. There wasn’t really much else we could do and from the amount of people in here, I half expected to have to share a room with someone. As Derrin dealt with booking the rooms, I turned to ask Briss if we would be sharing, but found her missing from my side. It took me a while to locate her amongst the sea of people in this room, but when I did I was not comforted by the look on her face.
“What did you do?” I asked and frowned at her.
“Nothing!” she exclaimed and looked scandalised at the accusation. A little too scandalised for my liking. “I’m going to go ahead and assume we’re sharing a room. Have you paid yet?” Rolling my eyes, I reached into my money pouch and handed over what I owed to the barman, along with Thom’s share too.
In my peripheral vision, I saw Grelda way slightly before leaning on the bar. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that her dizziness was wine related and I definitely didn’t think she should be in this hot, cramped bar any longer than necessary. Looping her arm through mine, I began to lead her to the stairs as Briss flanker and Derrin collected our room keys.
“Come on, Grelda,” I said. “Let’s get you to bed. You need a lie down.” We were just at the foot of the stairs when a man wearing what looked like a very expensive jacket and a guard stopped us from moving. “What’s going on?” I asked, looking at the two of them, feeling very confused.
“She’s the one that took my rapier,” the wealthy man said and pointed accusingly at Briss. Sighing heavily, I looked over at her and raised one of my eyebrows. Grelda rested her head against my shoulder rather than get involved in whatever was going to go down here. That was probably a smart move. She was in no real condition to be dealing with this kind of thing right now. Briss met my gaze briefly and then proceeded to pull the jewel encrusted rapier from behind her back.
“What? This?” she asked, feigning innocence. “I found it earlier when we entered the tavern. No one was around to claim it…so, you know…” Leaving the sentence hanging probably wasn’t the best idea and definitely didn’t help build any integrity to the lie. The guard didn’t seem to buy any of it and wasted no time in taking the rapier from her and returning it to the man.
“I suggest you leave this place and don’t come back. I’ll know if you do,” the guard said and began to usher her out of the tavern. I watched this with wide eyes, unsure of what to do or even if I should do anything.
“Don’t worry about it,” Briss said over her shoulder, appearing far too calm and at ease with this whole situation. “I’ll meet you and Derrin outside later.”
Derrin and I put Grelda to bed in one of the rooms and made sure she was comfortable before dumping our stuff in our respective room and then made down to Briss. I was still quite in awe about how calm she was considering she now couldn’t get into the tavern where she was meant to be staying. As we exited, we saw Briss leaning against the wall of the stables.
“I’ll just climb in through the window later,” she said and smirked when I nodded, suddenly understanding her composure earlier. “So, where to first?”
“I need to find somewhere that can do something with this wolf pelt,” Derrin said, looking towards the direction of the marketplace we had passed earlier.
“And I need to find somewhere to sell this crossbow that I have. I really don’t need it and I have no idea why I picked up anyway. Plus, I need to find a messenger post so I can send a message to my parents. I said I’d let them know when I made it to Baldur’s Gate,” I added.
“Right. I have some jewels I want to sell. So how about we head to the marketplace first, see what we can get rid of there?” Briss suggested. Derrin and I nodded in agreement and then the three of us were on our way.
It didn’t take long for Derrin to find someone who could make some nice fur gloves (which he said he would be giving to Grelda) from his wolf pelt. Not far from there, a man bought my crossbow for three gold pieces, which was more than I was expecting it to go for. briss had yet to find anywhere which would buy her jewels for a good price, but many people had told us that the Counting House was her best bet.
“Why don’t you two head there while I go to the messenger post and send a note to my parents. I’ll meet you both in the Wide in about an hour?” I suggested. As soon as the other two sounded their agreement, I split off and began to made my way to the messenger post, which was inconveniently back near the gate we had come through not even a couple of hours ago.
The messenger post wasn’t that busy when I arrived and I managed to write out a quick message, letting my parents know that I’d arrived safe and even found some travel companions en route. The cost of the raven that was to deliver the message was a little more than I would have liked or even expected, but it was a big city – I should have known. Walking back down the streets towards the wide took me a little longer than I expected (I had taken a couple of wrong turns), but I ended up in the large open space just after the hour mark and saw Derrin and Briss warming up to do what looked like some form of acrobatics act.
“Thought we’d join you with this whole performance thing,” Derrin explained as he pulled his arm across his chest to stretch out his muscles. I smiled at them and nodded before taking the spot to their left. From where we were standing, we could see the circus that the guard had mentioned was in town, but nothing else was really happening around there. There were no lights or noise coming from the tents, which wasn’t really surprising – it was nowhere near showtime.
Pulling out a small wooden box from my bag, I placed it on the floor in front of me and then took a good couple of steps back, giving me plenty of space. Usually I would begin my acts by doing some sort of rally speech to gain people’s interest. However, from the amount of noise and hustle in this place, I didn’t think that would work. My best bet was to just jump straight into it, so that’s what I did.
Throwing my hands into the air, fire leapt from my palms and began to collect above my head. It moved in a controlled circle above me until I moved my arms out. That’s when it flared outwards, just above the heads of the crowd that had gathered before turning into snowflakes and falling upon them. The crowd erupted into applause and began to throw change into the wooden box. I was setting myself up to another round of illusions when someone in the crowd started to vomit. That was as good a sign as any to call it a day with the performing. Derrin, Briss and I gathered our things and began to make our way back to the Three Kegs.
“So what did you guys get up to?” I asked as we walked. derrin and Briss exchanged a look but didn’t say anything. “What? What happened?”
Before briss could say anything, Derrin butted in and exclaimed, “She punched a beggar in the face!” I turned to Briss, waiting for an explanation but she just looked straight ahead, not acknowledging me until I coughed pointedly.
“What?!” she cried, throwing her hands in the air. “He punched me first…metaphorically, when he tried to get some money off me.”
Laughing and shaking my head, I decided not to give a comment her actions. Briss would be Briss and she’d punch beggars if she wanted to. There was no stopping or reasoning with her.
It was starting to get dark by the time we reached the Three Kegs and the hustle and there definitely weren’t as many people inside. Derrin and I left Briss outside as she began to climb up the building after I pointed out which window was our room. We sat down in a booth in the bar, deciding to wait for Thom to get back before spending time in our rooms. I leant against Derrin, feeling very tired from the day and just wanting someone to rest on. He stiffened slightly before relaxing and leaning back in his seat then taking a deep breath.
“It’s been a tiring day,” he whispered and I could feel his breath on me.
“Yeah, it definitely has. A lot of traveling and errand running,” I replied, matching his intonation. That’s when a small child appeared at our table, looking intently at Derrin. I moved off him slightly so I could exchanged a very confused look with him.
“Hello?” Derrin said, leaning forward onto the table. The little girl just stared at him for a moment before handing him a folded piece of parchment. “Who gave you this?” Derrin asked as he took the parchment and began to unfold it.
“The posh man with the beard,” she replied in a high pitched voice before scuttling out of the tavern. Derrin looked over at me and it was clear we were thinking the same thing.
“Remi,” I said and Derrin nodded then looked down at the note.
Tomorrow. The Blushing Mermaid. I have a job for you.
We didn’t have time to discuss what it could mean or why Remi didn’t just come find Derrin and speak face to face before Thom walked through and clocked us immediately. He dumped his stuff onto the table and then looked at the two of us.
“I have a job for us. It’s in the Underdark,” he said, looking completely serious and very stern.
“Ummm,” I replied as I looked at Derrin and then returned my gaze back to Thom. “I don’t think we’re quite equipped to handle going there yet, Thom.”
“No, we’re definitely not ready. The Underdark is serious business. None of us would last three seconds down there,” Derrin stated. I nodded my agreement and studied Thom carefully before he sighed and sat down in front of us.
“Yeah, you’re both right,” he sighed, not making eye contact with us. “I guess we should wait a bit. Try and train ourselves up so can be prepared. Maybe do a couple more jobs before we venture up there.” Derrin made a noise of agreement and the three of us sat in companionable silence for a moment before I stood up.
“Right, well, I’m going to go and check on Briss. She’s hiding away in our room because she can’t come down. It’s a long story,” I said whilst I looked at Thom. “I’m sure Derrin will explain. See you boys later.” I climbed the stairs quickly and walked straight into my room to see Briss sitting on the bed, playing with one of her daggers. “You alright?” I asked, closing the door behind me.
“Mhmm, just a bit bored. It sucks that I can’t leave this room unless it’s through the window,” she replied. Nodding, I looked around the room. It was pretty basic with just a bed and a desk with a chair that had an oil lamp placed upon it. I could imagine being stuck in here would drive anyone crazy.
“Hey, didn’t the guard say the circus was in town? Why don’t we go see it?! My parents used to take me and- they used to take me all the time! I loved it!” Briss looked at me for a second before nodding once and then making her way to the window.
“I meet you outside,” she said and threw leg over the window sil. Smiling, I turned around and hurried my way down the stairs. I briefly registered the site of Thom and Derrin sat opposite each other with some shot glasses at between them, but disregarded it as I reached the door. It had been ridiculously long since I’d been to the circus and I was way more than a little bit excited to be going again.
The two of us made our back to the Wide where torches had now been lit so they stood out against the darkness, lighting the way to the circus tent. There was a more palpable atmosphere of excitement as people began to follow the path and make their way to the ticket stand. Briss walked alongside me, clearly not as excited for this as I was. As we followed the crowd, I was practically bouncing on my toes with each step. It really had been a while since I’d seen a real performance. Banners hung atop the ticket stand and above the entrance to the main tent reading ‘The Grand Waterdeep Circus’. We joined the end of the queue for tickets and as we waited, some acrobats flipped and jumped, entertaining the crowd as they waited. But we weren’t waiting long. Within five minutes we had reached the front and a halfling wearing a red suit leant forward, smiling at Briss and I.
“Two tickets? That’ll be fifty silver pieces each,” he said, holding out his hand for the money. There was only a slight hesitation on Briss’ part before she handed over the silver pieces, whereas I handed over the money with much more gusto than was probably needed. “Thanks,” he replied, giving us two ticket stubs that had a strange red, glowing ink. “Enjoy the show!” I smiled at him and said a quick thank you before I dragged Briss into the main tent and got us seats as close to the front as I could possibly manage.
“This is going to be so good!” I squealed as I settled down in my seat. Briss frowned at me slightly and opened her mouth to say something, but I shushed her before she could as the lights had dimmed and music had started to play.
The ringmaster stepped into the centre, a single spotlight on him as he began talking, doing the usual introductory spiel that was meant to gain everyone’s interest and have them on the edge of their seats with anticipation for what was yet to come. He was stout, dwarven man who wore the traditional black top hat and red and white suit and had a twisty moustache, not unlike Remi’s.
Once his welcome speech had finished, he disappeared into thin air, causing the entire audience to gasp. But his disappearance didn’t keep our attention for long as almost immediately after, a woman with long black hair and a floaty red dress took to the stage. Slow, ethereal music began to play and she started to dance and twirl some ribbons as she did so. When the music began to increase in tempo, she let go of the ribbons and they began to twirl around her of their own accord. I smiled in awe and clapped along with the rest of the audience as she moved her hands, causing the ribbons to twist into shapes and perform complicated movements around her. When the music came to an end, she grabbed the ribbons and took a bow while the audience applauded and cheered.
She glided off as the acrobats from earlier flipped and cartwheeled their way onto the stage. We watched as they balanced on tight ropes, juggled flaming torches and knives as they did so. Every trick they did was met with applause and cheering, it was clear that out of the two performances, Briss preferred this one. While I found the acrobats extremely talented, the ribbon woman was my personal favourite of the two. Their performance ended with them jumping from the tight rope and landing on each other’s shoulders. Briss stood up and cheered loudly along with everyone else and I couldn’t help but laugh at her.
Once the acrobats had retreated backstage, three animals swooped over our heads. Briss and I hastily ducks before looking up to see three griffins circling the tent. They did loops in mid air and would swoop down and pinch a little food from people’s laps before landing in the centre circle around who I assumed was the griffin tamer. Applause once again sounded throughout the tent and the tamer threw his hands out to his side and bowed as the griffin’s stuck their front left legs out in front of them and did the same. The rest of their act had the tamer had the griffins fly through flaming hoops and in various formations, which was all very impressive but the act that followed the griffin tamer had the whole tent in awe.
A man with long brown hair and simple robes took to the centre circle. He greeted the audience in a similar manner to the previous performers but then began to start telling jokes. Now, the phrase ‘telling jokes’ is used very loosely. Nothing that he was saying was funny and a general atmosphere of ‘what on Earth is going on?’ was most definitely discernible. The sounds of people whispering to their friends started to grow louder; even Briss and I shared a look of pure confusion. That was, until the head of a giant red dragon erupted from the ground, swallowing the comedian whole. I sat, staring at the head of the dragon with wide eyes and my mouth hanging open. Briss dragged me down to the floor and everyone else seemed to have crouched or was panicking in some shape or form. Everyone was screaming and half of the crowd were up on their feet, ready to flee the tent. That was when the dragon disappeared, turning into a cloud of dust and revealed the comedian standing unharmed, wearing a much flashier suit and a huge smile on his face, looking thoroughly pleased with himself. There was a beat of silence before the room burst into cheers and everyone was on their feet. I couldn’t stop the smile on my face as I applauded and looked on in awe. That was some next level magic and I so incredibly impressed.
“Oh, that was good,” Briss commented as she clapped along with everyone else.
“I know, right?! It was incredible!” I replied, clapping even more enthusiastically as the illusionist took a bow and then began to walk out of the ring. Everyone took their seats again and the noise from the illusionist had barely died down when three drow walked in.
They were carrying bows and arrows, and seemed oblivious to the obvious mixed reaction they were getting from the crowd. A lot of people had fallen silent at the sight of them, whereas other people’s attention (namely Briss’) seemed to have peaked considerably. One of them had a blue flame scar across his neck that lead down onto his collar bone. It was clearly a spellscar. Two of the drow stood towards the right of the ring, small planks of wood held above their heads, while the third (the one with the spellscar) stood towards the left, bow and arrow poised. He began firing rapidly, hitting the blocks of wood every single time. The rest of their act followed the same sort thing. They were very good and clearly immensely talented archers, but it still couldn’t top the illusionary dragon. From Briss’ insanely tight grip on my arm throughout the entirety of their time in the spotlight, I had a feeling it was probably her favourite.
Following the Drow, two Goliath’s walked on carrying swords and shields and my eyes widened at the sight of them. They undoubtedly the largest creatures I had ever seen and their skin was blue with white tattoos covering almost every visible surface. They both acknowledges the crowd with a small nod before they began fighting. The entire bout was tense from the get go. One would have their sword on a path straight for the other’s heart or neck, when it would get impeded and then they’d both be back on a level playing field. It couldn’t have lasted more than ten minutes before coming to a shocking conclusion. One of them managed to get his sword to the other’s neck and then sliced right through it. His head rolled along the floor as his body fell to its knees in front of his opponent. Loud gasps echoed throughout the tent and I grasp Briss’ arm in horror, unable to take my eyes off the sight before me. The horror felt by everyone soon turned into amazement and even a few laughs could be heard as the detached head opened its eyes and then began to laugh. The Goliath that had decapitated his friend picked up the head and placed it on its rightful place on the body before proceeding to help his friend up. As they bowed in front of the applauding crowd they had incredibly large smiles on their face. We had obviously given them the exact reaction they had been looking for.
Passing the Goliaths, on their way to the stage, four Tieflings made their way forward carrying balls and batons in their hands. Their brick red skin seemed even more vibrant under the circus lighting and they all wore matching black leather clothing. They each raised their right hand in the air before jumping straight into their act. The batons and balls they had been carrying were suddenly engulfed in fire and they began juggling them. Every now and then they’d toss one to each other or do a complicated series of spins while the balls and batons were in the air before getting into position to catch them again. They were essentially juggling fire and it was as impressive as it sounds. As the crowd applauded the end of their act, they each held up their right hands, exactly like they had previously, and walked off.
There was a brief pause once the Tieflings left, and I was about to turn to Briss and ask her if she thought that the performances had finished, when a man wearing a floor length, hooded black cloak appeared in the centre. The cloak was black, but if you looked close enough, it seemed to be covered in stars like the night sky. It also spread in a large circumference around him, making it look like he was ascending from the darkness. I stared at him, thoroughly confused because I was absolutely positive that he hadn’t been there a second ago. But if he had simply walked on, surely we would have seen him? He smiled out at the audience before pointing at random people and describing objects that they had apparently brought with them tonight with an eerie amount of detail. It was very funny watching the shocked and confused faces of the people he was pointing at. Then he pointed at Briss.
I felt her tense up beside me, but I couldn’t help but giggle when the words that left his mouth were, “Magical gnome shoes.” Briss gave me a harsh side glance as I tried to stifle my giggling, but I just couldn’t help it. “They’re quite fashionable, really,” the hooded man said. “But they’re definitely not your size.” With those final words, he flicked his cloak behind him, revealing his legs and a pile of all of the objects he had just named and described. Laughing at the thoroughly disgruntled look on Briss’ face, I stood and applauded along with the rest of the audience.
Briss made her way back to her seat and glared at me before saying, “Shut up.”
“What?” I replied is as much of an innocent tone as I could muster. “It’s funny. Why do you even have them here with you?”
“Well I wasn’t going to leave in the room, was I? I already left the other gnome I took there.”
Before I could ask why leaving them there would have been such a terrible idea (or why she had taken some of Kuris’ clothes), the ringmaster appeared once again. A huge smile adorned his face as he began the his closing speech.
“Thank you all so much for attending. I hope you had a truly magical, mystical and entertaining evening. We are the Grand Waterdeep Circus and we bid you a goodnight!” he announced before a cloud of dust enveloped him and when it cleared, he was gone.
Loud chatter started from the audience as everyone began to gather their things and leave the tent. I turned to Briss with a huge smile on my face and grabbed the tops of her arms.
“Wasn’t that brilliant?” I asked, letting go of her so we could both stand up and make our way out. “I do love circuses. Everyone is so different. But that illusionist though. The dragon he conjured was simply amazing!”
“Yeah, it was,” Briss said as we walked out of the tent. “Why can’t you do that?”
“I haven’t gotten quite that far with my magic yet,” I admitted, looking to the ground. “One day, maybe. I mean, that illusionist must be so powerful! He must know so much.” We continued to walk back along the lighted path that had lead us to the main tent, but before we passed the ticket stand I caught sight of the ringmaster chatting to people as they left. Smiling, I grabbed Briss by her arm and pulled her over towards him. “Hello, sir,” I greeted, beaming down at him.
“Hello there,” he replied and smiled at Briss and I. “I hope you enjoyed the show. What was your favourite act?”
“I liked the Drow,” Briss answered as she subtly removing her arm from my grip.
“And I loved the dragon illusion. It was so realistic!” I said enthusiastically. “One day I hope my illusions can be as great and as on a large scale as that one.”
“Oh, so you’re an illusionist too?” he asked and twisted his moustache thoughtfully. I nodded in agreement, a little excited to see if this was going in the direction I thought it was. “Well in that case, please show me what you can do. I always love seeing new talent!”
“Of course!” I replied and took a couple of steps back, away from him and Briss. “May I borrow your hat?” I asked. The ringmaster looked a little taken aback by the request, but reached up and handed his tophat to me, nonetheless.
Smiling, I took it from him and then proceeded to throw it high above my head. As it twisted in the air, I muttered incantations under my breath and raised my hand. A starling flew out from inside of the hat and caught it in its feet. I dropped my hand back to my side, the starling continued to soar above the heads of Briss and the ringmaster and stardust appeared in the wake of its wings and floated down towards the ground. It flew in a circle above everyone once before four robins flew out from the inside. They were barely visible in the low light, but every so often one of them would fly into a patch of light from one of the torches.
A small crowd of people from the audience had now gathered, watching my illusionary birds circle above them – the starling scattering stardust above them as the robins weaved their way between each other. As the birds completed another circle, one of the robins every so often would spin rapidly, creating brightly coloured sparks in the sky. But upon the completion of this second circle, I decided it was time for the finale.
I clapped my hands once and all of the birds ascended higher into the air. Once it started to get hard to spot them against the night sky, I clapped again and they all turned and flew straight down towards me. The five birds were gaining speed fast, but I didn’t take my eyes off them and kept my expression calm and serene. It was about a foot above my head when it appeared that the robins had hit an invisible wall. As soon as they made contact with it, they disappeared and turned into a thin cloud of smoke that covered the circle which the birds had been flying in. When the starling made contact with the wall of smoke, a bright white light flashed and snow began to fall as the smoke began to fade.
Catching the ringmaster’s hat, I smiled and looked at the crowd in front of me who all had snow falling around them. The ringmaster and Briss began to applaud which then prompted the rest of the crowd to follow suit. Giggling, I put one arm across my front and the other behind my back before taking an elaborate bow. It had been a while since I had done a proper performance. I had forgotten how good it felt. I flipped the ringmaster’s hat in my hand as I walked over and then handed it back to him.
He placed the hat back on his head and gave me a toothy grin before saying, “That was quite the performance, young lady. What’s your name?”
“Alyona,” I replied. “Alyona Ashbrow.”
“Well, Alyona Ashbrow, you’d get along brilliantly with Thildance, our illusionist. Should you ever want to join, there’s a place for you here, with us.” I shared a glance with Briss, unsure of what to do or say. Joining the circus would have been amazing. I would have gotten to learn so much more magic and get to travel while doing so. That was the whole reason I left Deepingdale in the first place. But then I met these guys and even though I hadn’t known them very long, I felt like I could call them friends. I couldn’t just leave them now. “Don’t worry about declining right now,” the ringmaster said, quite obviously sensing my hesitation. “You can come find us tomorrow or even next year. They’ll always be a spot for you. But for now, why don’t you and your friend take these backstage passes and a programme so you can keep track of where we are.” He reached into his inside pocket and pulled out three pieces of parchment, all decorated the same as the tickets we had received and all had the same glowing red ink. He handed them to me and smiled before saying, “You two better hurry off now if you want to say hello to the acts. They’ll be wanting to get some sleep before an early rise tomorrow. I expect I’ll see you around, Alyona.” The ringmaster waved us off before turning to strike up a conversation with another member of the audience.
Briss and I grinned at each other and turned around to make our way behind the main tent, showing the passes to the staff that stood around there. As we rounded the corner we saw what was essentially a campsite filled with differently decorated caravans and some smaller tents that followed the circus colour scheme. One of the caravans was a deep red, the same colour as the dragon that had been conjured earlier. Smiling, I bounded up to the door and knocked on it three times. I could hear the sound of rustling the other side of the door, but I didn’t have to wait long until it swung open to reveal the illusionist from earlier. He looked down at Briss and me, seemingly a little surprised to see us here, before smiling and stepping out from his caravan.
“Hello ladies, nice to meet you. I’m Thildance. I take it you were in the audience of this performance?” he asked. I barely had time to nod before he carried on talking. “Wonderful! I hope you enjoyed it. How did you manage to get backstage passes?” He nodded at the papers still in my hand.
“Oh, the ringmaster gave us them. He also offered me a place here at the circus after I performed for him. I’m an illusionist too, you see,” I said quickly, the words rushing out of my mouth. Thildance raised an eyebrow before looking me up and down with a scrutinizing gaze.
“You must be good…or at least show some potential. Lugbat doesn’t offer positions to just anyone. He also doesn’t just give out backstage passes willy nilly,” he commented, smirking at Briss and I. “I did mention to him I was thinking of taking on an apprentice. I’ll gladly teach you some tricks of the trade. What was your answer to his offer?”
“I didn’t actually give him one,” I replied. “But I think it’s going to be a no. I have some prior commitments.” Thildance nodded and sighed heavily through his nose.
“But you will be around tomorrow? If you have some time, I can at least teach you a little something and it’ll give you a chance to see the circus life. Maybe it’ll even change your mind!”
Laughing, I nodded and looked at him before smiling and saying, “Yes, I’m around tomorrow. I’m not sure you’ll change my mind, but I might as well let you have a go!” He clapped his hands loudly and smiled broadly.
“See you at eight, then! I may teach you a ritual, I think. Oh, would you both like me to sign your backstage passes before you leave?” I nodded enthusiastically, holding both of the passes for him to sign.
Once he signed them and waved us goodbye, Briss had spotted a caravan that was so completely black it almost blended in with the sky. Immediately we knew it belonged to the cloaked man that had managed to pinch people’s belongings – including Briss’ gnome shoes. Briss practically dragged me over there before she wrapped her knuckles against his door. The sound of various locks being undone before the door sung open to reveal the thief himself. He leant against his doorframe and smirked at the sight of us.
“Ah, gnome shoes. How did you manage to get a backstage pass?” he asked, looking at Briss with far too much amusement.
“My friend impressed the ringmaster,” Briss replied shortly. “How did you manage to take all of those things without anyone noticing? It was a pretty packed room. Did you use magic?”
“Impressed Lugbat, eh?” he repeated, looking me up and down. “Well done, and I’m a thief. Plain and simple. No magic involved.”
“Do you know anything about a thieves guild?” Briss asked and I couldn’t help but look at her with a little confusion. She really was bombarding this poor man with questions this evening.
The thief stopped leaning against his doorframe and held eye contact with Briss for a little longer than necessary before saying, “What makes you think I’d tell you even if I did?”
“I’m a thief too,” Briss responded in a very matter-of-fact way. The man smirked at her and took a step back into his caravan.
“Prove it.” As soon as the words left his mouth, his door shut again and the sound of locks clicking into place filled the air.
Briss, resilient and stubborn as ever, pulled her lock picking tools out from her pocket and set to work. In my opinion, it didn’t take her long at all to break into the caravan. She made picking the three locks on that door look almost effortless, but as the door swung open the man was nowhere to be seen.
“Not bad,” said a voice from behind us. We both jumped at the sound and turned around to see the thief smirking at us. “There’s a shop near the Helm and Cloak. You’ll know it when you see it. That’s where you’ll find the information on what you’re looking for.” Briss nodded at him and made to walk away, but grabbed her arm and looked back at the man.
“Would you mind signing our passes, please?” I asked. He chuckled quietly before nodding and taking them from me.
We made our way around the rest of the acts, having small chats and telling them how much we enjoyed their performances, before getting their signatures and moving on. I had to practically drag Briss away from the Drow before we finally left to head back to the Three Kegs.
As I entered through the front door, Briss began her climb up to our room. The bar area was still quite busy, which surprised me considering it was now rather late. It wasn’t incredibly noisy, but there was a lot of drunk laughter and the sound of tankards hitting the table. A distinct amount of noise was coming from a booth to my left and when my gaze wandered over to there, I was shocked to see a completely drunk Derrin with a half passed out Thom, and Grelda, who was only slightly more drunk than usual. Sighing, I walked over to them with the full intention of getting them up to bed as soon as possible, but Derrin spotted me before I could instigate my plan.
“Alyona!” he cried, raising his tankard in the air. “You missed it! More people came and found me! They asked me to do another thing where we can all get paid. We have to go to the Helm and Cloak tomorrow at a time that is after one but before three. I forget what that number is.” His words were beginning to slur and he was leaning very far forward across the table to talk to me. I couldn’t help but laugh at him. It was very odd seeing Derrin in this sort of condition. “Oh and there was a very handsome man in the corner who offered us an assassination job.”
“You may not want to say that one so loud,” I said to him, glancing at the people around us. They didn’t seem to be paying attention, but I had a feeling that if they had been I could spin the ‘drunken story’ excuse and they’d buy it.
“It pays soooo well. We have to be at the Blushing Mermaid by noon tomorrow. Explain more then. I’m very sleepy right now.” When he finished that sentence, Derrin laid his head on the table while his hand still clutched his tankard. I rolled my eyes and then looked to Grelda who was smiling a little too broadly at the sight of a passed out Derrin and Thom.
“We should probably take them up to their rooms now,” Grelda said, standing and moving to put Thom’s arm over her shoulder. “I’ll take this one. I think I’m sharing a room with him anyway. Will you be okay taking Derrin to his room, Aly?” she asked.
“Sure thing,” I replied and pushed Derrin back do I could sling his arm over my shoulders and half lift him. He was a lot heavier than he looked. Grelda had Thom all the way up the stairs before I had even made it to the foot of the steps.
Eventually I got Derrin into his room and put him on his bed. I removed his shoes, but left it at that before returning to mine and Briss’ room. While I would class Derrin as a friend, I didn’t think we were comfortable enough with each other for me to do anything other than that for him, yet.
Briss was already asleep on the floor when I got into our room and as I got into bed, I made a mental note to insist that she have the bed tomorrow night and to tell her about the other jobs Derrin had informed me of.
As the sun began to stream through our window and onto my face, I shuffled around on the bed and began to stretch awake. It took me slightly longer to get ready than usual to get readys I moved around as quietly as possible, so I didn’t wake Briss. I left the tavern before anyone else in our group woke and assumed that Briss would inform them where I was. Raising a hand at the barkeep as I left, I began to head to the Wide so I could spend the morning training with Thildance.
I walked straight through, past the main tent towards the backstage area Briss and I had visited last night. No one stopped me or asked why I was there and I couldn’t get over how different the place looked during the daylight. The thief’s caravan stood out much more now and a lot more people were out and about. Different acts were stood in the open space outside their caravans, practicing their performances or just socialising with each other. Thildance was doing the same as I approached him. He seemed to be formulating different coloured smoke into patterns. Stopping a couple of metres away, I watched the smoke for a minute or two before coughing pointedly.
His head turned in my direction and the smoke stopped as he said, “Ah, Alyona! Good to see you. You’re right on time. Shall we get started?” He gestured to the wooden bench just in front of the caravan and we both made our way over to begin my training.
A good portion of the morning was spent by Thildance teaching me a new ritual that would allow me to understand any language for a given period of time. I practiced continuously for two hours, with Thildance occasionally correcting me on my pronunciation or how much of the ingredients I was using. At around twelve we stopped and I was very thankful. I was beginning to get a bit tired and thought I should probably leave to meet up with the others soon, but Thildance took me to what looked like the main campfire circle where all the other acts had gathered and were eating lunch. He passed me a plate and ushered me forward to where the food was on display and slowly began to put some on my plate.
I had been sat, eating and chatting with the performers for a while before Lugbat came round and sat down next to me, clearly happy that I was there.
“Alyona! Is it just my wishful thinking or have you taken up my offer for a position here?” he asked.
“No, I’m sorry,” I replied, giving him an apologetic smile. “I’m just here to practice with Thildance for a bit.”
“I won’t lie and say I’m not disappointed. But while we have you here, why don’t you show everyone else some of your illusions?”
“Okay, why not?”
I set my plate down next to me and held my hand out so my palm was facing upwards. Fire appeared in my hand, just like I had done at the lumber camp. But, instead of using it to get information out of someone, I muttered an incantation and a phoenix began to form from the flames. It soared up above and began to fly around, just like a normal bird. Then it was joined by what looked like another phoenix, but instead of being made of flames, it appeared to be ice. I looked over at Thildance and saw him muttering spells under his breath as his hand moved in front of him. Smiling, I turned my attention back to my phoenix and started to make it cause fireworks every time it flapped its wings. Thildance countered with his ice phoenix causing snow with its wings. We carried on like that for a good ten minutes before Thildance’s phoenix burst into a snow cloud and mine went out like a giant firework. The rest of the performers clapped and laughed at the little impromptu show they had witnessed and I laughed and took a bow along with Thildance.
“Are you sure you won’t stay?” the ribbon lady asked.
“I’d really love to, but I’m travelling with friends and I promised them I’d help with some jobs they have lined up. Speaking of which, I really need to head off to meet them now.” I stood up and gathered my things as everyone else began to say good bye. “I look forward to seeing you all soon. I don’t know how long we’ll be staying in Baldur’s Gate, but while we’re still here, I’ll be sure to drop by.”
And with that, I left and began to make my way to the Blushing Mermaid. The whole walk there I was thankful that I hadn’t told any of the circus members where I was going, because I was pretty sure that along with being quite a dodgy tavern, it was a brothel. I saw Derrin, Briss and Thom standing outside the very likely to be brothel, talking animatedly as I approached them. Thom was the first to see me and he gave a small smile before drawing the attention of the other two to me.
“Good. You’re here,” Derrin said as he turned towards me. “You’re going to be the one doing this, okay?”
“Doing what?” I asked and looked at everyone else.
“The assassination. It’s going to be you. You’ve got the magic. It’ll be very hard, near impossible to trace it back to you. You’ll be fine. Also, we’re apparently meant to be meeting Remi here, but I’m pretty sure you were there for that bit. I know what you’re thinking – what if the man we need to assassinate is Remi? Don’t worry, it isn’t. We thought it was for a moment, but the portrait just looks similar to him. It definitely isn’t Remi. Are you okay?” The sheer panic on my face was probably what prompted that last question. They wanted me to kill a man for monetary gain and I couldn’t quite deal with that.
“I’m not sure I’ll be able to do this,” I said as I stared at the sign of the building.
“You can. It’ll be fine,” Derrin said, putting his hand on my shoulder in what I assume was meant to be a comforting gesture. But he was persuading me to kill a man, so I wasn’t too sure how I felt about it.
Thom tied Todd to a post outside and then there wasn’t much more time for discussion before everyone turned and entered the building. The scene before us was like that of any other tavern I’d ever been in. There was a bar and some tables scattered around the room and people were talking loudly while drinking and apparently going about their day. Thom and Derrin made their way to a table close to the bar while Briss and I decided to hang back and sit somewhere a little further away. There was a corridor to our left that seemed to have considerably dimmer lighting and I pointed it out to Briss. She looked over at where I gestured and nodded before making eye contact with Derrin. He nodded once and then him and Thom walked down got up from their table and made their way down the corridor to the right.
Briss and I began to walk down the dimly lit left hand corridor, but as we walked further all we could see were other rooms with people milling about in them. In one there was a man facedown on the floor. He could have been dead or unconscious, we wouldn’t have known the difference. We carried on looking around and saw nothing else but locked accommodation rooms.
“There’s meant to be a cellar, isn’t there?” Briss asked me as we turned the corner and saw a dead end.
“A cellar. That’s where all the prostitution happens. Not above ground in the tavern-esque area,” she explained, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“So what you’re saying is that we should be looking for an entrance to a prostitution cellar?”
“Yeah, pretty much. My bet is that it’d be behind a bookcase.”
We turned around and made our way back to the main entrance room to find Thom and Derrin and possibly a bookcase. I looked into the room that had the unconscious/dead man in and he still hadn’t moved. His odds weren’t looking so great. Entering the main room, we saw that Thom and Derrin had made their way back too. We headed straight towards them and Briss began speaking immediately.
“Did you see any bookcases?” she asked. Derrin and Thom shared a completely befuddled look with each other before nodding slowly. “Good. Show us where it is. I think that’s where we need to go.”
“That’s where the prostitution cellar is,” I whispered, enjoying the confusion on their faces.
“Right…” Derrin said as he looked between the two of us and then Thom before turning on his heel to lead us to this bookcase. We followed him in relative silence, now looking around this dimly lit corridor. It seemed to be a mirror image of the left corridor, so much of the sights were the same. Except when we reached what would have been the dead end, there was indeed a bookcase. Briis looked very proud of herself as she walked up to it and began pulling the books off of it. Eventually she pulled one out that caused the shelf to slide to the right, revealing another set of stairs that undoubtedly led to the prostitution cellar.
We stepped inside and began to make our way down. The air was a lot staler and it smelt like dick. It was just generally gross and the further down we got, the worse it seemed to get. Before we could enter the main room, a man sat on a wooden chair, blocking our way. He observed the four of us carefully as we walked towards him.
“I need a ten percent cut of whatever these two are paying you, ladies. Those are the rules,” he said, giving us a smile that was for too creepy for my liking. But we didn’t have much of a choice other than to give him money. Otherwise we’d cause a scene and that’s not what we wanted to happen. Briss and I handed him one gold piece each, completely unconcerned with how cheap that meant we were to him. We were hardly going to give him a substantial amount of money.
It didn’t take us long to find the room we need to be in. Amongst the sea of rough looking rooms and people walking around half dressed, there was one door that appeared far too well kept and didn’t seem to have the smell of dick around it, almost like it was cleaned regularly. I wish I could have said the same for the other rooms.
Derrin took the lead and knocked on the door, giving me a pointed look as he did so. I frowned slightly, still not completely comfortable with what was about to happen and I wasn’t entirely sure I’d even do it. But as the door swung open, we saw a man who did look an awful lot like Remi, but it clearly wasn’t. His clothes were also expensive and it was apparent he had a lot of money.
“You must be Derrin and his group!” he said, taking a step back so we could all enter. He shut the door properly and turned to face with a huge smile on his face. “My cousin, Remi, said that you would be the best people to contact for what I need doing.” I glanced over at Derrin who shook his head slightly at me and then engaged in the conversation.
“So Remi recommended us…and you’re related to him?” Derrin asked, double checking all of the facts.
“Yes, like I said, he’s my cousin. Can’t you see the resemblance? I’ve been told we look very alike.”
“Yeah…” Derrin looked at me with wide, confused eyes for a second before returning to a neutral facial expression to talk to Remi’s cousin. “What do you need us to do?”
“Now, there’s something that I want. It’s in the Woods of Sharp Teeth and you all seem to have the skill set required to get it for me,” he said and put his hands into his pockets. “It’s a blue gem, that I’m looking for. So what do you say?”
“Why do you need this gem?” Briss asked.
Remi’s cousin turned to her and smiled before replying, “I like special things and this gem is a special thing.”
“Special things?” Briss repeated and then reached into her bag to pull out the gnome shoes. “These are special. As you can see they’re of great quality and they’re magical.” I watched as Remi’s cousin stared at the shoes for a minutes before nodding to himself.
“They are very nice. I’ll give you five hundred gold for them,” he offered. Briss’ face lit up and she practically threw the shoes at him.
“Deal!” Remi’s cousin walked over to the table in the room and pulled out a leather pouch before throwing it at Briss.
“While we’re on the subject of gold,” Derrin interjected. “How much would you be paying us for this?”
“Two hundred gold each.” Yes, this man definitely had a lot of money. This entire family was the probably the type to throw money at everything.
“We accept,” Derrin replied quickly and shook hands with the other man. “We have some other things to take care of first, but we shall return and let you know when we’re going to set off.”
With that, we left and made our way out of the cellar. As soon as we reached the other side of the bookcase, I sighed appreciatively at the smell of fresh air. Then I turned to Derrin and began quizzing him as we all made our way out of the Blushing Mermaid.
“So the man you were speaking to last night wanted us to kill Remi’s cousin.” I stated. Derrin merely nodded and pulled the door open for Briss, Thom and I to walk through. “But obviously we aren’t going to do that. So what are we going to do. If we don’t kill him, they’re probably going to get someone else to try.”
“Don’t worry about it. We’ll figure something out,” he said and knelt down to help Thom untie Todd. “There’s another job I want to look into before we do anything. Once we’ve found out about that one, we can way up our options. Also, while we’re here, we should probably do some digging about the Seawood Company.”
“Yeah,” Thom agreed, holding on to a bit of rope that was attached to Todd as some form of makeshift lead. “We’ve run into them twice now. I’m starting to think this isn’t really a coincidence.”
“Right then,” Briss said as she walked over to a beggar on the street. “Hello. Can you tell us where we’d find out about the Seawood Company?”
“Seawood? They make boats I think. Try the docks,” she replied and then held out her hands, hinting at some payment for the information. But Briss had already walked away before she could get around to actually asking.
“To the docks!” Briss announced, leading the way there.
It wasn’t as long a walk as I anticipated and as we reached the docks, the smell of the sea and sight of fishermen unloading the boats greeted us. We walked over to the ship closest to us and got as close as we could so we could talk to them.
“Hello,” I said, smiling and taking a step forward onto the boat. I barely got another word out before I roughly pushed against my shoulder, sending me tumbling back into Derrin.
“You don’t board a ship without the captain’s approval, missy,” said one of the sailors as he leaned threateningly over me. Thom stepped in front of me and pushed the man away before saying something that I didn’t quite catch and then getting pulled away by Derrin.
“Now is not the time to be starting a brawl, Thom,” Derrin warned. He had one hand around the top of Thom’s arm and the other on my shoulder and we all began to move away.
“Okay…round two, I guess,” I said, pulling away from Derrin and moving towards another group of sailors.
I could feel the other three stood very closely behind me the entire time I was talking to the sailors. Maybe they were just trying to make sure they could hear everything they were saying, but I kind of knew they were there just in case I messed up again.
The sailors told us that the Seawood Company made ships and that a lot of the ships at the dock had been made by them, but recently they were having trouble acquiring wood because a lot of the lumber camps were becoming soul providers for another company. They were also kind enough to point out where the Seawood Company offices were in the business district. We all thanked them and then began to walk away, heading towards the Helm and Cloak. Derrin started talking as Thom lagged behind with Todd.
“That’s odd – really odd,” he said.
“What is?” Briss asked, walking on Derrin’s other side.
“Lumber camps never produce wood for a specific company. I used to work for one a long time ago. That’s not how things are done.” We carried on walking in silence for a couple of minutes, everyone mulling over what this information could possibly mean, until Thom caught up with us. He had Todd walking along with him and then another goat under his arm.
“I’m just going to drop off this goat. I’ll meet you guys at the Helm and Cloak,” he said before walking off without giving us a chance to ask any questions. Derrin, Briss and I looked at each other, all of us very confused and then carried on.
As we walked, I spotted a pet shop and ducked in quickly, looking at their birds. I had always wanted a pet to travel around with and one that could possibly help me with my performances would always be a bonus. The woman in the shop pointed out a beautiful phoenix that stood on a perch in her shop window and I felt my heart melt whilst looking at it, but it cost ten thousand gold and there was no way I’d be able to afford that. Instead, my attention was drawn to a sleek, black raven sat on the counter. It was twisting its head, looking at me curiously and then when I smiled at it, it went on hopping around the counter, looking for seeds again. That was the bird I left with (and he was much more affordable than the phoenix).
“What are you going to call him?” Briss asked as my raven flew ahead of us before turning around and then landing on my shoulder.
It nuzzled me as we continued to walk and I smiled at him before replying, “I don’t really know. I didn’t really have a name picked out. He was more of an impulse buy, really.”
“How about Edgar?” Derrin suggested and he reached to stroke the raven’s back.
“Edgar…I like it.” I smiled up at Derrin and watched as he held my gaze for a couple of seconds before withdrawing his hand and then looking at the ground.
But then all of our attention was drawn to the large tavern in front of us. People were moving in and out of it at an alarming pace and it was making so much noise we could hear it very clearly from where we stood down the street. It was about twice as busy as the Three Kegs had been when we had first arrived. the three of us stood there for a moment, just watching it all and as we did, Thom arrived at my side. We had arrived at the Helm and Cloak and I didn’t think all of us would manage to get in there easily, let alone accompanied by a goat and a raven.