Of Spells and Swords
This place is one giant oyster, and all the pretty pearls are ripe for the harvest. A wink, a smile, and a bit of luck and guile, that’s all that was left over after the rest was stolen from me. You see, it wasn’t always like this. T’was Destined to be a merchant, just like my pa, and his pa before that, and his pa before that. It suited me just fine. That is until Barazaan changed all that. Filthy pirate. No honor. It’s one thing to be a pirate you know, and a whole other to be a filthy one.
My pa had paid all the necessary tributes and taxes. The pirates got greedy. They boarded our ship. My pa, he had all the papers and passes in order. They wanted more. He refused, and was run through with a blade. I watched him bleed and gasp his last breath. I tried to scream out and run headlong to my certain death, but my pa’s first mate slipped from the shadows and stopped me. Pete was his name. He was probably the nicest human I ever met. He always treated us Hin with respect and admiration; ya know, I will never forget that. He told me to hide; said I was always good at that game. I knew the perfect place too. He said if the pirates took the ship, they would bring it to Marsember. He handed me a little metal piece; “Look for the Wayward Weasel; ask for Thom; show him this and say the words Quis est raptor est mei ; now go!” I ran off and heard Pete growl curses as he joined the fray.
Things got ugly. We were over matched. They executed our crew; well, those that lived long enough, my brother included. My mum, tough little bugger she was, stuck the pirate captain real good, right in the back of the knee. It earned her a bolt in the back. They threw her overboard with the others. Barazaan limped around the deck, our deck, with blood oozing from the back of his left leg. He spat and raised his sword in victory. “She is mine now! It seems we have expanded our business lads!” he yelled. His crew cheered, and I vowed revenge then and there. For the next few days, I stayed hidden; I survived on the bit of bread and cheese I always had with me… and a little flask of cider. We Hin always have a bit of eats and a sip you know. We docked around sundown, and little ole me slipped out unnoticed into the streets. Looking and searching; I remembered what Pete said as I ran my fingers around the little metal token. It wasn’t easy finding the Wayward Weasel. It took a couple days. I was hungry, and shoeless, but it wasn’t difficult to pilfer a bit here and there. I even snagged a hot pie. Almost got caught too, but thank Avandra, I’m lucky. My best acquirement was a pair of soft leather boots.
I found the place, and asked for Thom. I was pointed to the hearth where he was sitting amongst a group and sharing what I assume was a jovial tale. I eased over and caught his glance. “Welly welly well, looks like you need to sweep up in here Ghilcrest! A pile of dust and dirt has blown into your establishment!” Everyone laughed… everyone but me that is. “Why so dour Halfling? I don’t think I have ever seen a dour Halfling!” There was more laughter. I placed the token on the table before him, and whispered “Quis est raptor est mei.” Thom’s smile faded, “Everyone. Leave us.” They just stared. Thom raised his voice. “Now!” The sound of silence was replaced with those of chairs scrapping along the floor. “Tell me everything lad.” He signaled to the front and ordered a meal and drink for me. I recounted the ordeal over the next few hours. Thom sat in attentive silence only interrupting to ask pointed questions. At one point, when I got to the pirate captain, he muttered “Sounds like Barazaan; I hear he sailed into town a few days ago and left quickly…makes sense.” I ended my report at the door of the Wayward Weasel. Thom leaned back in his chair as I finished off my third bowl of stew. “So that’s where a dusty, little, clever, lad like you got those fancy boots. You know, they stick out like bloody torch in a cave.” I looked down sheepishly. “Never mind that lad; it sees you have some skills. Do you have any family left, or a place to go?” I shook my head. “Well, I know Pete was one of the most straight up guys I ever had the pleasure of knowing. If he’s vouching for you…” I interrupted. “I want revenge the nearly took everything, and I want to my payment.” Thom rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Well, if you really want it, I have a place for you. You need to earn your keep though. It will take dedication and hard work, but I think you can handle it; I mean you found me didn’t ya?” I thought a moment; I had nowhere else to go. If Pete trusted Thom, I had really no reason not to. I nodded in agreement. “Well then…what’s your name lad?” “Jimrick” I uttered. “Well Jimrick, let’s get you cleaned up, but keep your hands where I can see ‘em. If I’m not careful you’re likely to steal the toes right off my feet.”
That’s how I got my guild nickname. I am Jimrick Stealtoe, and the world is my oyster. If you see the pirate Barazaan, ask him how his limp is. Tell him Stealtoe sends his regards. Tell him I am coming to take back what he took from me. EVERYTHING. Quis est raptor est mei!
Thom called Jimrick into his quarters. The Halfling had just finished helping out at the orphanage, and the sun had already disappeared under the horizon.
“Stealtoe, a moment please…before you retire for the eve’ I need to speak with you."
The Hin smiled.
“Of course master Thom, what is it?”
“Please sit.” “You may have heard whispers about one of the recent Harvests. One you were not part of.”
“I heard it was a success, sir.” Jimrick replied
“Well, hrmmm, yes, yes it was. Well, loyal brother, The Harvest recovered items that were on your father’s ship. Items Barazzaan dumped quickly to the fences. I suppose he only cared about the ship.”
Jimrick Stealtoe sat stone-faced and silent.
“We recovered many items; they belong to you of course. We will take our normal fee and the rest is yours.”
“Give it all to the orphanage.” Jimrick said flatly. “I have no care for great wealth; the Brotherhood has instilled that in me.”
“I thought as much Stealtoe, tis noble it is. However, you should have one item, at least.”
Thom lifted a cloth to reveal a flat box. He lifted the lid, and from the velvet and silk lined interior, he pulled out a fine rapier. The finest Jimrick had ever seen.
“This, Stealtoe, this once belonged to Pete. Knowing him as well as I did, I am sure he would want you to have it.”
Jimrick took the pommel from Thom and eyed the sword. It glimmered, and the Hin felt a surge of power.
“It is named Brash. Keep it, Stealtoe. Pete would have insisted.”
Jimrick simply nodded as Thom handed him the scabbard. He fasted it and sheathed the blade.
“Thank you, Master Thom.”
Thom smiled. “No, thank you, Brother Hin. Enjoy the rest of the evening. More work to do tomorrow.”
With that, Stealtoe slipped into the shadows.
After the Rift
It had been a couple days since they returned from the Rift. Jimrick Stealtoe had been mostly quiet and morose. He had taken his meals with his friends but remained unusually quiet. They had all been though much, and the loss of their young friend had set in.
It was a late evening; the public house was quiet. Most folks had gone home or retired to their rented quarters upstairs. Stealtoe nursed a large mug of cider. He stared at his reflection in the mirror behind the bar. The scarred face stared back. It was a cruel reminder of his recent past. He hoped the cruel visage did not become the Stealtoe now sitting on the bar stool. He could feel the tightness pull as he frowned.
“It might hurt less if you smiled!” The amiable voice warmed over his shoulders like a good fire on a bad night. Jimrick was surprised to see the fellow Hin. The chubby Halfling took the stool beside the thief. “How’s the cider here?” Jimrick saw a sparkle in his neighbor’s eyes and found himself smiling despite his mood. “It is rather good.” Jimrick replied. “GREAT!” the fat man said. He ordered two mugs; one for Jimrick as well as himself. The bartender served them and went back to her work. Jimrick took the mug and raised it to the Halfling “Thanks…uh” “Dobbin, Dobbin Arras.” The chubby Hin replied. “Thanks Dobbin Dobbin Arras.” Stealtoe retorted as he clinked Dobbin’s mug. They both took a long draught. Jimrick started “I’m Ji..” Dobbin interrupted. “Mr. Jimrick Stealtoe. Yes, you and your friends are the talk of the town. The talk of Cormyr!” Stealtoe had not yet got accustomed to the notoriety. “Ah, yes.” Jimrick responded and gazed into his cider. Dobbin slapped Jimrick’s shoulder. “I am sure you have been through much and more friend. The stories you must have.” he said with a comforting smile.
Over the next few hours, Jimrick shared some of his experiences. Dobbin listened intently. He laughed at the funny parts, tensed at the stressful parts, and sympathized at the sad parts. Jimrick ended his tales and itched at his scars. He felt drained but better because of it. “I’m sorry I commanded most of the conversation Dobbin, what about you? What brings you here?” “No apologies needed my lad; I am afraid I am but a simple merchant stopping here between destinations. It is rather late though, and I know you are exhausted. Perhaps we should both hit the hay, huh?” Jimrick felt guilty that he was relived to hear that. “Aye, Dobbin.” Good night to you; I hope we can speak again before you leave.” Dobbin smiled. “Perhaps we could break our fast in the morning; invite you friends.” “I’d like that Dobbin; cheers.” “Cheers, friend!” Dobbin replied as he downed the last drop of cider.
Stealtoe woke the next morning. He was refreshed, and the soreness he had felt over the past several days had vanished. He felt unencumbered like the weight of the world had been lifted from his back. He washed and found himself whistling. The reflection in the mirror was grinning. Dobbin was right; it did hurt less when he smiled. Jimrick was going to go to Harvest Hall and make a delivery. He got dressed, and for the first time he fastened the new bracers and donned his new skull cap. Both were gifts from Tunaster and the Mages; they told him both items would soon be of use. The bracers were adorned with the symbol of Avandra; the deep dark colors were subdued but impressive. He could feel a faint power surge in his arms. The cap amused Jimrick. He looked in the mirror once more. The leather cap fit perfectly, and the two small spike-like horns protruded slightly. He looked like a young Faun or perhaps a Satyr.
He walked downstairs and saw his friends. They were being served breakfast. “Hey-ho.” Jimrick said cheerily. This startled his friends. He had been sullen and quiet. This renewed disposition was a welcome return. They smiled and greeted the Hin. “Say, have you seen a chubby fellow Hin this morning? His name is Dobbin; he wanted to meet all of you over breakfast this morning.” They all looked to one another. “No, sorry Jimrick. I don’t think so.” replied Benedict. Jimrick briefly frowned. “I’m hungry!” he said as he stole a sausage, slab of bacon, and a jam-y biscuit from Rhasgar’s plate. The fighter grunted in ineffective protest. Stealtoe looked over to Grim. The Dwarf was had resumed his wooing of Baerill. They were flirting. Baerill slapped Grim’s hands from her apron. “Stop you!” she said with a laugh. “I have work to do… Good morn Jimrick!” The thief smiled. “Good morn Baerill.” “Now, what can I get for you?” Stealtoe, mouth full, pointed at Rhasgar’s plate and raised two fingers. Baerill rolled her eyes and laughed. She knew he meant twice the helping of the Dragonborn.
Breakfast ended. They, for the first time in what seemed a very long time, joked and smiled. Jimrick excused himself. He told them about his plan to visit the Orphanage at Harvest Hall. He whistled as he walked down the street. The day was in full swing. Vendors plied their wares. Delicious smells permeated the air, and people appeared to be genuinely happy. Perhaps the group did make an impact. That thought gladdened Jimrick’s heart. He stopped at the cheese monger’s stand. He was, after all, a connoisseur.
Stealtoe nibbled on a bit of cheese as he passed the cobbler’s store front. A pair of soft supple leather boots sat in the display. Jimrick stopped and looked. “Hey! Jimrick!” the voice was familiar. Dobbin was nearly out of breath. “I have been trying to catch up with you since the cheese monger.” he said as he calmed. “You dropped this!” Dobbin handed Jimrick his money pouch, heavy with coin and jewels. “Uh, wow thanks! I don’t know how I lost it!” “Thank you! Here….” Jimrick reached into the purse. “No no no no no.” Dobbin replied pushing Stealtoe’s hands away. “It was nothing, truly.” Dobbin saw Jimrick’s eyes go back to the boots. “Ah! Shopping today? Those are a mighty fine pair of boots! Mighty fine indeed.” Jimrick’s attention was snapped back. “No, not in the budget for me Dobbin; I was just looking.” “Not in the budget? That was a rather heavy purse, Jimrick.” “Oh, no, well, yes, but this is not mine, it is for the Orphanage and its school.” “I have what I need and maybe a bit of what I want. They need it much more than I do.” Dobbin’s smile broadened as he looked into Stealtoe’s eyes. “Yes, I suppose they do.” “Oh, would you like to walk with me, Dobbin? I am sorry we missed breakfast. Maybe we can have second breakfast together…” “Alas, I cannot. Business calls. My shipment is arriving sooner than I though. I am leaving within the hour, Jimrick. I do say; however, it was a mighty fine pleasure to have met you.” “Indeed, sir. The pleasure was mine as well.” Dobbin smiled that warm and big smile. “Take care of yourself, lad. May our paths cross again someday.” “With luck on our side, may it be so.” They shook hands and parted ways.
Jimrick arrived at Harvest Hall. Bartrom waved as he stirred the large stew pot. Jimrick stopped; his hand lashed out and snagged another. He twisted the un-embodied wrist. “AHHHHHHHH!” Young Jack hastily revealed himself from under the clothed table. Jimrick laughed. “Fool me once, Jack…” he released Jack’s arm. “Had to try one more time Mr. Stealtoe.” They both laughed.
The Hin made his way to Katriana’s office. She greeted him warmly. “This is for the organization.” Stealtoe said as he set the purse on the desk. Katriana nodded. “Thank you! We have been very fortunate as of late. Several days ago a Gnome and his associate briefly stopped by and made a donation, and early this morning, another Hin by the name of Mr. Dobbin Arras visited and made a significant donation. He entertained the children too and told them a story. He said he had met you last night and wasn’t sure he would see you again. He heard you were familiar with us here, so he left you this.” She handed Jimrick a box. Jimrick accepted it with a quizzical look on his face, but Katriana raised her hands in a similar perplexed expression. They spoke, and Jimrick asked about Thom and the Marsember branch. She shared what news she knew. The subject of Kat came up. They both expressed their sadness. Jimrick left and affirmed his gratitude for the Hall’s work. He vowed to return soon.
Jimrick passed his friends as he climbed the stairs to his room. Rhasgar and Grim chided the Hin and told them he was already well behind. The empty mugs confirmed their boast. “I’ll be down soon you artless, lily-livered, bugbears!” Jimrick opened the door to his room and set the mystery box on his bed.
Darkness. The bag was over his head in less than a second. His arms were grabbed as he was forced to sit in the hard chair. “Greetings little brother. We have been watching you. We have heard of your exploits. Keep on the path little brother. Undertoe sends his regards to Stealtoe.” Jimrick’s arms were released. The room was quiet. He cautiously removed the dark bag. He was alone. It took a moment, but he composed himself. He went to the bed and opened the box. He took up the letter sitting on a nest of tissue paper.
Greetings, Jimrick, my friend.
I am sorry could not meet you and your friends for breakfast. I had to leave in haste. Business calls. I wanted to thank you for the companionship last night. It warmed my lonely heart. Please accept these. I saw them early this morning and thought of you. I hope you like them. They are mighty fine. Mighty fine indeed.
Warm Regards, Dobbin
Jimrick moved the tissue paper. “It couldn’t be…how…” he thought. At the bottom of the box sat a pair of soft supple leather boots. They were mighty fine indeed.
Jimrick’s spirits remained high. While awaiting instructions from the mages, and taking the time to recover, the new adventurers had stayed in town. This permitted Stealtoe to keep his vow for another day. After breakfast with his friends, the Hin went to the Wyvern Watch’s kitchen. The baskets were waiting. In the recent days, Jimrick, with minimal effort, had convinced Baerill and her sister to donate leftovers to the Orphanage. This provided the perfect opportunity to visit until it was time leave…
The Halfling had remained at the orphanage all day helping with maintenance and chores. He also took time to run the children through tumbling and exercises. It wasn’t really necessary, but it delighted the children and kept them in shape. Jimrick hugged the young ones as he left and pulled one from his back. He tossed her hair as she giggled. It had been a great day.
The sun was setting and most of the vendors had closed shop. Jimrick was hungry and was looking forward to another evening at the Inn. He cut into an alley, a shortcut had had been using, to get there more quickly. He whistled while he hopped a short wall to the rear of his destination.
“Hey, Pic!” The gruff, curt voice cut the evening air. Equally gruff laughter surrounded Stealtoe. The hair on his neck and arms bristled. The Hin’s eyes narrowed as he set himself. “That’s a mighty strong word for such a weak mind.” Jimrick replied. The hooded figures stepped from the shadows. They were not smiling. “You and your friends have stopped nothing, Pic.” Again, Jimrick clenched his fists; he was not going to this to ruin his day. Jimrick saw a familiar silhouette, Baerill. She darted back into her Inn. He hopped she saw what was happening.
The thugs began to approach the thief. Jimrick watched closely and whispered a requested for aid from Avandra. The bracers he wore filled Stealtoe with a surge; his arms felt powerful. He charged the one who spoke. A flash! As he charged, his head became heavy, and a set of large phantom horns grew from his cap. A ghostly ram erupted toward his target. It crushed the thug’s face as Jimrick connected with his dagger hilt into the thug’s chest. He felt ribs crack under the newly felt power. The target collapsed unconscious and bleeding. The thief’s feet sparked, and he found himself quickly shifted away from the brute’s prone body. The retinue momentarily paused, now unsure and confused. They recovered and attacked at once. Stealtoe fought but was overcome. Two had him grabbed and the third approached him with a nasty blade.
The back door of the Wyvern Watch was thrown open. Rhasgar and Grim charge ahead and met the two holding Jimrick as they dropped him. Dio towered over the third as he wet himself. Hawke had flown high and landed silently. The frightened thug met her elbow when he turned to run. His nose exploded in a gush of red. Benedict walked into the alley and whispered a spell. The three conscious thugs fell into a deep sleep.
Jimrick rubbed his arms. “Thanks.” He said. “Baerill saved you, Jimrick!” smiled Grim. Jimrick looked to the door as she looked on in concern. Jimrick nodded his appreciation. Three off duty Purple Dragons also walked into the alley. The group quickly told them what has happened. They nodded gathered the unconscious villains asking Rhasgar for his help bringing in the prisoners for questioning. He acquiesced and picked up the leader who was just now stirring and moaning in pain. Rhasgar and the Purple Dragons departed while the others helped Jimrick into the Inn. “Let’s get some stew and brew into ya Jimrick” the Dwarf said. “First round is on me.” Jimrick winced.