Bianca, Elemra, Dirien, Lander, Henrad, Rikas, Norfin, and the pack mule plodded down the road to Waterdeep in hopes of finding adventure. It was a crisp but lovely day, and the sun was just breaking above the horizon. A few birds chirped merrily, and, if the group listened closely, they could faintly detect the sound of rushing water from a hidden stream. The worn dirt road under their feet separated the swamp to their right from the hills to left, which gradually led into the peaks that made up the Sword Mountains. The Mere of Dead Men, as the swamp was accurately named, ruined the otherwise surreal atmosphere and outstanding view. The road was uneventful, a pleasant surprise from the activity of the past two weeks.

Dirien, a dumb paladin, and Elemra, a selfless cleric, sat in a tavern, waiting for their food. The roast boar, a house special, was roasting on a spit on one wall, and the delectable scent of it carried through the establishment, triggering a low, but almost constant, growl of stomachs. Only Elemra was unaffected by the enticing aroma, as she had forsaken the consumption of animals for personal comfort long ago, and had no regrets.

The companions sat in silence, but they had plenty to listen to if they cared to, between the shouts of the serving wenches, the ruckus of the gambling soldiers, who seemed to be off duty, and the low tones of conversation that most tables were occupied with. Elemra was lost in thought, staring at the fireplace and contemplating where her and her friend should head after they visited the Temple of Ilmater, who she was devoted to. She determined that the temple would probably have a task for the two of them. Dirien sat like a statue in her full armor, though her helmet sat on the bench beside her, displaying her short-cropped black hair, which emphasized her dark brown, almost black, eyes. She maintained her usual presence and only Torm knew what she was thinking, for she recited none of his dogma at the moment.

In one corner of the large room, two small figures sat at a table, away from the bustle. One was a halfling, who appeared to be a thief. Next to her sat another thief, this one human, who could not have seen more than eighteen summers, and was small and thin even for those standards. They were quiet, but not unusually so for their trade. The halfling, Bianca, had come to the city to sharpen her thievery skills under the dwarven locksmith Grodeg, and was at the tavern keeping an eye on Rikas. Rikas had been caught by Grodeg himself while trying to break into the dwarf’s home. Now, he was in the locksmith’s service, but it could even be considered a better situation for the former street urchin, because now he had guaranteed food and shelter. The pair watched the city guard empty their pouches onto the large table they were gathered at.

The watch, who were on break, threw dice at the wall, hoping to win big, and mostly losing their spare coins. One man, however, sat calmly at the nearest table to them, dressed in the same armor and bearing the same coat of arms. He watched with a face of annoyance as his peers made fools of themselves, every so often lifting his mug of ale to his mouth and taking a sip, pacing himself, unlike his colleagues, who chugged their drinks and kept ordering new ones. He cast disappointed glances at two soldiers in particular, who were involved in a heated argument, where one accused the other of kicking the dice and skewing the roll on purpose. Lander, as that was the guard’s name, was easily the most skilled warrior on the watch, but he was also one of the worst soldiers, on the premise that he followed his morals above his orders.

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