Small Packages: Trouble in Threes
The messenger that waited on the dock was one of Grandmother Druid’s favorites. He was nicknamed sparrow because it was such a favorite form of his that he sometimes wild shaped to it out of reflex when something startled him. Jared noted he had that wild eyed edginess about him now.
“Sparrow, what news do you bring?” Jared ventured, using an even soothing tone with his hands held out but low like a ranger might approach a frightened deer.
“F-f-f-famine King and k-k-k-Queen battling Orcs. They d-d-d-dammed the creeks, k-k-killed a whole bunch of them and now there’s un-d-d-d-dead all across the wild zone. Angry Grass are looking for d-direction and h-help containing the situation.” Sparrow always had a bit of a stuttering problem when he his nerves were up, but the nervous halfling had serious magical chops, and despite his stuttering, the courage to wield it.
Orcs near the Famine King’s land was trouble enough, that the wily spellcaster had found the holes in his cage was down right scary. He’d be forced back inside his mounds, the next big rain would see to that. His queen and her vampires were not so easily constrained.
Jared looked back toward the slaver’s galley still afloat thanks to his foster son’s courage. The party disembarking had that look of desperation and grim resolve soldiers get after a battle went badly. Trouble comes in threes, another cliche life seemed destined to prove.
Sparrow and Valen both fidgeted with youthful impatience waiting for the Ambassador General to speak. “Sparrow, tell Grandmother Druid I’ll send out the Starstones to support the Angry Grass beyond the Green gates but we will need a serious rainstorm over the Famine King’s lands. We’ll also need as many wooden weapons as we can muster.” Jared commanded and Sparrow obeyed without so much as a word he slipped into his namesake form and flew off.
“Valen, repeat everything I’ve said to your brothers and muster the Starstone company regulars. I want them ready to leave for the wild zone in 2 hours with or without me. Tell your mother what’s going on too.” Jared barked and his third foster son obeyed.
The intended slaves had chosen a party to speak, composed of a vanara female with a great sword across her back, a grippli female alchemist judging by the bright coloration and twin bandoliers filled with vials and what Jared took for bombs, and an extraordinarily attractive human man inked with arcane tattoos.
Jared leaned on his cane a little, with a thought he used his hat of disguises to make himself look a little more haggered. Sending three well armed emissaries meant they were either intimidated or wanted to be intimidating. Jared would yield to their show of force, allow them the initiative and see how they reacted when they believed themselves to have the upper hand.
The three foreigners seemed to gain confidence with each step down the dock toward dry land. Jared stood at the end of the dock and raised a hand when they were within about ten paces.
“That’s close enough for now, state your business here please,” Jared cocked his head a little from the straight down position he was looking as he assumed his character. The effect was imbalanced, giving his head a tilt that might suggest he was less than a genius.
The vanara snorted and looked ready to charge forward and push him aside. The pretty human man gently put a hand up to quell the hot headed warrior. He looked over Jared with an appraising eye before speaking, “sir we would like to have a word with your famous council of elders, we have dire news and need to request the sanctuary and for the famed hospitality of Briar Hills.” Even his voice was pretty, though he wore no instrument Jared pegged him for a bard of some sort.
Jared decided he would give them a little push. “Return to your ship for now, the hospitality you seek does not apply to ships flying slaver colors. Tell me your news before you go back and I’ll bring it to the council, if they decide it is important enough they will summon you.” He used a condescending and dismissive tone. The pretty boy bard merely blinked before preparing to launching into a verbal sparring match, the alchemist grippli nodded and started to turn back, the vanara barbarian however had had enough.
“You will stand aside old man,” she sputtered her voice practically shaking with rage as she drew her great sword and rushed forward. With a word in sylvan Jared activated his boots and with a brush of his finger his teleportation school pin. The vanara may as well have been under a slow spell.
To her credit she kept her head enough to use only the flat of the blade which would have merely roughly forced him aside, but Jared had teleported from her diagonal left to her diagonal right. Jared used his cane like a tonfa and battered the rash barbarian hard behind the knee forcing her off her feet. He drew his blade then and with a spinning motion rode the Vanara down to the ground hard knocking the wind from her lungs and the sense from her noggin. Her eyes opened and widened a second later as she realized he had his rapier against her throat.
“You should learn some manners from your bard friend young lady, the best warrior knows not only how to fight but when to fight.” Jared said is in Simian, the vanaran native tongue. She tilted her neck back in a nod that acknowledged his prowess, to a Vanaran it literally meant my throat is yours to take. “That’s better, now what news do you bring this far North?”
The news was dire indeed, confirming two things Jared had already known: nothing good ever came out of a slaver’s ship and trouble comes in threes.