Session 26: A Dramatic Return To Phandalin

A Dramatic Return To Phandalin
After careful consideration, and considerable debate, the group decided that they would bring the unicorn skeleton back to The Place of the Unicorn before returning to Phandalin.

They decided to wrap the unicorn skeleton in the large curtain from the third floor, and use the benches from the second floor to carry it safely.

They wrapped the husk of Julious in the other half of the curtain, which Lee would carry.

They gave the tower a final examination, checking many of the rooms and items within. While searching, Pippin shared that he had found a pretty, incandescent blue sphere, about the size of a marble. Atilius examined it and decided to cast identify, revealing that it was an Oghma Stone of Insight. Pippin gave it to Atilius, who, upon request, gave it to Moula, as Oghma is her patron.

Outside, in the ruined extension, Turenim found a key, which he gave to Pippin, and they used it to lock the doors to the castle.

After a few hours they made their way, slowly, to The Place of the Unicorn. Lee and Moula maneuvered the unicorn's skull so that the horn fit into the crack in the stone table. They found that it fit perfectly, but had to be held, so that the weight of the skeleton didn't cause it to pop out of the crack.

Meanwhile, Atilius and Turenim went down into the portal room, and Atilius cast detect magic. He found that a strong enchantment had returned to the portal.

They decided they wanted to take the unicorn horn with them, and bury the rest of it, but they didn't have any digging tools. So Lee cut the unicorn's horn and they left the unicorn skeleton in the stairway room until they could return.

Still carrying the husk of Julious, they arrived in Phandalin that evening.

Their first stop was at the Town Master's Hall, to see Sildar Hallwinter. Sildar was there to greet them, happy to see them, and saddened at the loss of Julious and them not having found Sister Garaele.

Next they went to visit Daran Edermath. He happily invited them in and proceeded to prepare them a fine meal of apple stew. Despite their insistence that he not go through the trouble, they thoroughly enjoyed the homemade meal. Daran was also joyous and grieved by their news.

Then they went to see Linene Graywind at the Lionshield Coster to let her know that they dealt with ogres that had been waylaying caravan shipments, and they should have no more trouble getting goods between Phandalin and Leilon.

Finally they went to the Stonehill Inn, where the crowded occupants cheered the heroes' return, and Toblen insisted on buying them all a round on the house. Albrecht began to play a song describing their recent adventures.

While they were enjoying themselves, Pippin felt someone slip him a note and saw them promptly leave the inn. He read it and shared with Lee that Halia had requested a visit.

Lee abruptly told the other's that Pippin and him were going to take a walk, and they went to the Miner's Exchange. In front were two workers sitting on barrels. As Lee and Pippin approached, one of them subtly banged on the door. "Well met. what can we do for you?" one of them asked.

"I'm here to see Halia." Pippin replied. "This is my bodyguard."

"Go right in." the worker replied.

Inside they found Halia sitting in her office with two more workers leaning over her desk, which she promptly dismissed and they departed into a back room. "Have a seat." She gestured to Pippin and Lee. "You're back! How did it go? Were you successful? Did you clear out the mine?"

"Yeah," they nodded in unison.

"I understand why you're here." She assured them. "Just give me one moment." And she left into a back room, before coming back with two sacks. "This is for you, for your troubles, and you can distribute that however you wish." She plopped the sacks down on the desk with a clinging, and slid them across the desk to them.

Pippin peaked inside and saw they were filled with gold. "Thank you very much." he said, grinning.

"Of course." she replied. "I appreciate what you did. It meant a great deal to me, and I hope we can do business again in the future. I'll be sending someone out to inspect those mines. Hopefully we can get them open before someone else settles them. It will be a profitable business for us, and a boon to Phandalin. When I came here I never imagined how successful Phandalin would become."

"Okay." Lee said. "Well, thanks again." And they turned to leave.

"Pippin." Halia asked as they were leaving. "Can I speak to you privately for a minute?"

"One second buddy," Pippin called to Lee.

Lee turned. "Halia-"

"It's fine." Pippin assured Lee. "I got this."

"Can I stay with him?" Lee continued.

"I just want to speak to him for a minute." Halia replied. "It will just be a minute."

"I mean he is-" Lee began.

"I can handle myself," Pippin assured Lee again.

"-my son" Lee finished.

"He's quite capable." Halia replied.

"I know." Lee agreed.

"And he's not your son." Halia continued.

"He is." Lee maintained. "I mean, I'm his guardian. I'm supposed to be here for him."

"He's safe here." Halia assured.

"It's okay." Pippin stated. "I'll be fine. Just wait outside. I'll be out in a few minutes."

Reluctantly, Lee left with the sacks of gold, and walked back towards the center of town.

"I'd like to meet with you a little bit longer." Halia revealed. " I have something I really want to discuss with you, but it will take some time, and I know that your friend is... nervous about leaving you alone. Maybe leaving you alone in general. Hopefully not with me."

Pippin nodded his agreement.

"Do you think that we could meet privately sometime?" Halia asked. "Sometime tomorrow, perhaps?"

"Sure," Pippin agreed. "That's sounds good."

"Great," she replied. "Just swing by. Trust me. We're all on the same side here. I know that as adventurers you have to be on your guard, but you've been quite impressive for one so young. That kind of talent should not go overlooked. So swing by. We'll go for a walk. I'd actually like to show you what we're doing at the mines."

Pippin agreed.

"Great." Halia continued. "So, anytime tomorrow. If I'm not here, just have someone go and get me. I won't be far. It's a pleasure, Pippin. Don't spend all your gold in one place."

"I'll try." Pippin replied. "Bye."

As Pippin began to walk down the block, Lee was coming back. "Pippin!"

"Hi" Pippin said.

"What did she say to you?" Lee pressed.

"Uh, just that I was doing a good job."

Lee looked suspicious. "That's really it?"

"Yeah," Pippin continued, "She really, um, she said that it was really impressive that I was doing so well for one so young."

"I mean, yeah, it's true." Lee acknowledge. "I mean it's crazy. You know, you're such a young guy. You know, you're really impressive, and I'm really proud of you."

"Thank you." Pippin said.

"So um," Lee began again. "Is that all she really said? She give you anything else? She give you a reward for being that cool?"

"No." Pippin answered, nonchalantly.

"Can you do me a favor?" Lee asked. "Take this." And Lee handed Pippin the gold. "Go back to the party. I have to... I have to have a word with someone."

"With Halia Thornton?" Pippin asked.

"No, no, no." Lee insisted. "I have to talk to Daran about something really quick."

"You wouldn't be lying to me, would you?" Pippin asked.

"No." Lee vowed. "Never."

"Great, because I would never lie to you either." Pippin replied. "I'll go back to the party." And he left.

As soon as Pippin was out of sight, Lee stormed back into the Miner's Exchange. One of the workers stopped him. "What can I help you with?" one asked as they both stood.

"I wanted to talk to Halia about something." Lee told them.

"Let me see if she's still free." the worker replied, and went inside.

Lee made small talk with the lone worker, while gripped his hand axe.

The worker returned, "She's ready for you."

Halia Thornton
Lee went inside and found Halia waiting at her desk with two workers at her side. "Lee," she greeted him. "What can I help you with?"

"What are you doing with Pippin?" Lee demanded.

"What am I doing with Pippin?" she asked.

Lee leaned over her desk, smashing his gauntlets into it. "What are you doing with my son? You little bitch!"

"Lee, get out of here now." Halia replied calmly. "You don't want to fight with me."

"I'll die trying to protect him," Lee threatened, "because I don't want to see you mess with him."

"You don't have to protect him from me." Halia insisted.

"Oh, then who am I protecting him from?" Lee snarked. "The person who's trying to bring him out alone? Without me?"

"Who's putting him in danger?" Halia retorted. "And I'm not saying that you shouldn't be. But you're the one who's putting him in danger. And you profess to be his father. But what kind of father are you?"

"I'm trying!" Lee insisted.

"Who brings their child into that kind of danger?" Halia asked, rhetorically.

"I can't stop him!" Lee insisted. "I wasn't the one who made him. I'm only the one who influences him from here on out. I'm trying to make the building blocks of his personality better, but I can't."

"He is obviously capable of greater things than you'll ever be, old man." Halia stated. "Don't try to hold him back. Let him be. He can make decisions for himself."

"I know that," Lee noted, "and I've let him do that many times."

"I've told you once, and I'll tell you again," Halia said, "You don't have to protect him from me, because I don't mean him any harm."

"What did you talk to him about?" Lee insisted.

"It doesn't matter what I talk to him about?" Halia reputed.

"Yes it does!" Lee yelled.

"It is none of your business!"

"It is my business!" Lee yelled again.

"No it's not." Halia insisted, still calm.

"Does he even know that you're here." Halia asked.

"Yes he does." Lee lied.

"You don't trust him to make decisions for himself." Halia refuted.

"Yes I do!" Lee insisted.

"You're being overprotective, because of your own insecurity, because of your own failings." Halia accused.

"JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU TALKED TO HIM ABOUT!" Lee pressed.

"I'm not going to tell you anything." Halia maintained.

Lee sighed. "I've killed many people in my day, and if you won't tell me an answer, you're going to be another one on the list."

"Do your best." Halia challenged. "You know, you guys are 'the heroes of Phandalin.' But if it wouldn't have been for me, all the civilians in this town would be dead. I'm the one who saved them. Don't forget it.

"Because when those orcs invaded through the woods that you were guarding, I'm the one who held them off. Not you. What were you doing when you were supposed to be protecting the manor?"

"I was trying my best." Lee conceded.

"Okay." Halia offered, "And that is commendable. But again, you tried and failed. Fortunately there was someone else there to pick up where you left off. And that was me. So don't mess with me old man."

"Can you let me try and take care of my son?" Lee pleaded. "Can you let me try and actually teach him lessons?"

"I'm not getting in your way." Halia insisted.

"THEN WHAT ARE YOU TALKING TO HIM ABOUT?" Lee implored.

"Do you not allow him to talk to people?" Halia ridiculed. "Does every conversation have to be approved by you?"

"What are you talking to him about?" Lee repeated.

"It's none of your business." Halia maintained.

"Yes it it."

"The fact that you are asking me and not him just shows what a pathetic father figure you are." Halia asserted. Why don't you ask him?"

"I did." Lee admitted.

"Or trust him?" Halia continued.

"Halia Thornton..." Lee began.

"Lee..." Halia began, "I guess it's just Lee."

"You're lucky that I have people in my life who have shown me that stabbing someone right through the neck isn't the first reaction I should have, once they're a liar, or a cheater." Lee moaned. "That I should give them a second chance. Give them a little bit of hope. Give them the benefit of the doubt."

"You're lucky about that." Halia urged. "You're lucky you have those people in your life. Embrace those people. I'm not your enemy Lee. Unless you make me your enemy.

Lee turned and left. He headed back to the Stonehill Inn where the rest of the group was making merry. He grabbed Turenim by the arm and led him outside.

"I'm going to kill Halia Thornton, unless you prove to me otherwise." Lee growled.

"What happened?" Turenim asked.

Lee told him about Pippin getting the note to meet with Halia, and going to meet with Halia and getting the gold from her.

"What gold?" Turenim asked?

"Dammit!" Lee cursed.

Turenim explained that Pippin returned and joined in the merriment and that was all.

"Get those coins from him. Right now!" Lee urged. "Cause he has our gold from Halia."

"What gold?" Turenim repeated.

"Our gold from those stupid mines!" Lee explained.

"Why is that the priority?" Turenim asked. "Is that the priority?"

"No so I was... Ahhh!" Lee shouted and slammed the wall. "I was at Halia's and dumbass was there. And she says 'Can I pull Pippin aside?' and I said 'No, you can't' and she wouldn't fracking let me so I had to fracking leave and she talked to Pippin for an hour. And I came back to Pippin, and I asked him what they talked about and he was like, 'Oh, nothing,' and I said, 'Of course you talked about something,' and he said, 'She was just complimenting'" Lee said in a whiny imitation of Pippin, "and he had this smirk on his face. I walked back inside, and Halia said, 'You're a dirty old little man and you won't ever be a good father figure.' She's doing something with Pippin, and I'm going to stab her in the eyes."

"Okay, so don't." Turenim urged. "We should talk about this. Let's talk to Pippin first, and get the whole party on board."

"She's doing something to Pippin." Lee muttered. "And I'm going to rip her skull right off her body and I'm going to stomp it."

"Well," Turenim suggested, "We can have Atilius take a look at this, or."

"And do what?" Lee asked.

"Well," Turenim explained, "If you think she's doing something to Pippin."

"But," Lee tried, "I don't think it's magic. Though I think it's some sort of-"

"Wait," Turenim halted, "How do you know Pippin has gold?"

"Cause I gave it to him." Lee explained. "Cause we walked over there, and she was, 'here's your gold for being good with the mines and stuff."

"Let's talk to Pippin and let's talk to the whole party." Turenim suggested, and they both returned inside.

"Hey Pippin," Lee called out. "Did you give everyone their share of the gold?"

"You have the gold." Pippin responded.

"I have the gold?" Lee asked. "I gave you the gold Pippin."

"Oh, I totally forgot." Pippin laughed. "Here." Pippin produced the two sacks of gold for everyone."

The gold was passed to Moula for safe keeping.

Turenim explained what he had heard about their encounter with Halia Thornton. "Pippin, what happened?"

Lee interjected, "She told you what a great adventurer you were, didn't she Pippin?"

"Yeah," Pippin answered. "She praised me."

Atilius intervened, trying to make sense of it all.

"ATILIUS, JUST SHUT UP!" Lee shouted.

"Lee, calm down." Turenim implored. "Lee's upset."

"Lee, where's this coming from?" Atilius asked.

"Lee's sad, because I'm leaving him behind and going to a secret-" Pippin began.

"You're what?" Turenim asked. "You're joining..."

"Pippin, you're a..." Lee rose to storm off, and shouted. "I'm going to go kill Halia Thornton. You guys wanna come with?"

"Yes!" shouted Albrecht, drawing his rapier.

"It's Halia Thornton murdering time boys!" Lee shouted.

Turenim cast calm emotions on Lee, Pippin, and Albrecht. Pippin and Albrecht were unaffected, but Lee immediately calmed down and returned to the table. "You know, maybe we should talk to Pippin about this cult thing?"

"Cult?" Atilius asked, along with the others? "What cult?"

"He just said he was going to join a secret society." Lee explained.

"I was just toying with you." Pippin quipped.

"Lee," Turenim began, "You know killing Halia Thornton isn't going  to help us."

"How so?" Lee asked, calmly.

"Murder is not something we want to resort to right now." Turenim explained.

"Well you're the one who constantly says we should kill evil things." Lee questioned. "You have this whole ethos about 'I kill all the evil things,' but now that it's an evil person we have to stop?"

"We have no reason to think that Halia is evil." Moula stated.

"We don't know what happened." Turenim suggested. "We have to find that out first."

"I know exactly what happened." Lee maintained. "I think he walked in and she asked him to join a secret society, and he left and then she wouldn't tell me, and then she insulted me repeatedly about weak and useless I was."

"We can't go around killing people we don't like." Turenim entreated. "As much as Halia-"

"You know I don't like Harbin." Lee responded. "But does that mean I want to go kill Harbin?"

"Where did Halia go?" Atilius asked.

"You know what Atilius?" Lee declared. "You need to shut up." And then his face filled with rage once again, as Turenim's enchantment wore off, and he stormed out.

Albrecht, Turenim, Moula, and Atilius got up to go after him.

Albrecht cast suggestion on Moula, commanding her to stop and sit down, and she set back down.

Outside the inn, Atilius cast web on Albrecht and Lee, pinning them both.

"You are very sensible people," Atilius asserted, walking up to them. "Why are you doing this?"

"Just let me go!" Lee commanded "Stop asking your stupid questions, and let me go."

"No," Turenim said as he arrived, arrived "No. That's not what we do."

"I'll go kill myself in the woods." Lee threatened. "And have a-"

"This isn't for you." Turenim urged. "This is for-"

"What happened with Pippin?" Atilius asked. "You have to tell me."

"I tried." Lee answered. "She proposes, 'Hey Pippin can we talk together for a second?' and I repeatedly tell tell her, 'Why are you kicking me out,' and she kicked me out, and I tried to go back and see what they were talking about-"

"How did she kick you out?" Turenim asked.

"She told me, 'Leave' and I said 'I'm not'" Lee explained as he freed himself from the webs.

"Lee," Atilius urged, "Before you go, can you please explain?"

"She dropped Pippin aside and told him about some secret society that he could join and the insulted me as I came back and approached her and about why she was talking to my son."

"Is death the right answer to this?" Atilius asked.

"Yes." Lee replied. "Yes it is."

"Why?" Atilius asked.

"You're going to throw your own life away?" Turenim asked.

"My life doesn't matter." Lee explained. "His does, and she's threatening his."

"And there's no other way?" Turenim suggested. "We can work things out with Halia Thornton. We can even do it right now. But there's no other way besides forfeiting-"

"This isn't just a right now problem." Albrecht growled.

"Revenge is sweet and poignant." Lee responded and ran off towards the Mining Exchange, with Turenim trying to keep up.

"Let me go, please!" Albrecht growled.

"Now Albrecht," Atilius inquired. "You have this sudden change. You were fine in the inn, but now you're angry-"

"Hearing about this secret society makes so much sense considering the events that have transpired in my life." Albrecht contended.

"Explain yourself." Atilius pressed. "And why does this warrant the death of another person?"

"Well," Albrecht pressed, "Her existence warranted the death of my family, and the destruction of my property."

"Warranted the destruction of your family?" Atilius asked.

"I know there was-" Albrecht began.

Meanwhile Moula used her stillness of mind to end the power of Albrecht's enchantment and took off after them with Pippin.

At that moment Moula and Pippin arrived, and taking in the scene, Pippin asked. "What's going? Why is he in this web? Who attacked him?"

"No one attacked him," Atilius answered.

"Who put him in the web." Pippin asked.

"They're going to kill Halia Thornton," Atilius explained.

"Which way did Lee go?" Pippin asked.

"That way." Atilius pointed towards the Mining Exchange.

Pippin sprinted after them.

Moula had passed Turenim and was gaining on Lee as he ran up to the Miner's Exchange.

Lee drew Talon and shouted at the four workers standing outside the door, "What's up mother Fr-."

Just then, Moula caught up to him and quickly tripped Lee, sending him tumbling onto his belly, and immediately mounted his back and pinned him to the ground. "Lee, wait for Pippin to get here. You didn't even give him a chance to explain."

Pinned on his belly, Lee's arms fell limp and his body began to rack with sobs.

Pippin arrived and called out, "Lee! What are you doing? This is all just a big misunderstanding. Just let me explain."

Lee continued to bawl.

"Lee you can't just give up on us like this. We need you. You're not by yourself in the woods anymore. You have a family. You have us. You can't just give up on everything you have. Stop your crying. You can fix this. Just get up and stop," Pippin calmed.

Albrecht and Atilius arrived. Albrecht moved just past them and stared at the Miner's Exchange intently. Atilius stayed by his side, watching him closely.

"You might be right about Halia, but you need to give me more time." Pippin explain "You can't just compromise things so fast. I know what I'm doing."

Moula stopped pinning Lee and patted his back in consolation.

"Vengeance is inside of that building." Albrecht growled, stepping forward slightly. "Vengeance for a feud that has lasted for years. I could take it."

"Albrecht, think." Atilius urged.

"I've thought, as if for a decade!" Albrecht continued.

"By doing this, you'll destroy yourself." Atilius pleaded.

"Myself is gone." Albrecht went on.

"Albrecht," Pippin said, "We can do this. Secretly. Stealthily. We don't have to just run in there and kill them all. You might be right. She might be evil. But I have a plan. You just have to chill out. Both of you. I know what I'm doing."

"Pippin." Lee sobbed. "Pippin."

"Albrecht, you are smart, and you are intelligent, and you won the battle of Phandalin for everyone." Atilius pleaded. "And you have people who care about you. You have a family. We are your family. We're with you through thick and through thin."

"My family is dead!" Albrecht roared.

"We're your new family." Pippin chimed in. "But you'll lose that family if you..."

"Atilius," Lee sobbed, "be quiet."

"It's going to be okay." Pippin whispered to Lee.

"I'm sorry I'm such a rat bastard." Lee whispered back.

Albrecht slowly drew his rapier from its sheath.

Moula got up and maneuvered closer to the bard.

Turenim finally arrived. "This has been an ongoing conflict. We should discuss this. There are lot of people around."

"We should discuss this?" Albrecht asked, incredulous.

Lee got up off the ground and Pippin began to lead him away, back towards the center of town.

"Don't let Albrecht attack them," Turenim said and turned to follow Lee and Pippin.

Sildar Hallwinter
Halfway to the center of town, they saw four Redbrands approaching them with Sildar following. "Gentlemen," he called to them. "Is everything okay?"

"We're working out some problems." Turenim explained.

"Are you sure?" Sildar asked. "I got a complaint."

"We just got into a little bit of an argument." Pippin explained.

"A big argument." Lee offered.

"Is it over now?" Sildar asked.

"For us." Lee answered. "But I would go check what's happening at the Miner's Exchange."

"I don't think that's necessary." Pippin chimed.

"Alright." Sildar said, turning to Turenim. "You got this under control?"

They all nodded.

"Okay." Sildar conceded. "Relax guys. This is a civilized place here. I'm going to check out what's happening at the Miner's Exchange. You can continue."

Sildar and the Redbrands continued on.

"You think it's going to make you feel better." Moula was explaining to Albrecht.

"I don't" Albrecht insisted.

"You think it's going to avenge the deaths of your loved one." Moula suggested.

"No." Albrecht maintained.

"Then what do you think it's going to do?" Moula asked.

"She committed evil upon this world any nothing has punished it!" Albrecht growled.

"So you're trying to bring a good to the world by ridding it of her presence?" Moula asked.

"She has wronged it, and no one has punished it!" Albrecht went on.

"That's going against the law, that's going against everyone!" Atilius pleaded. "There's a time and a place for all of this. Albrecht you're being reckless right now. I know you want to exact your revenge. But we can talk about this. Have we wronged you?"

"Albrecht." Moula said. "I've lived with revenge my whole life. My parents and my siblings were murdered by my country's government, because they spoke out against an official when he said it was a great country, and it was a dictatorship. I've lived with that my entire life. I've wanted revenge my whole life. But I got over it. It was a terrible place. But-"

"Have you been there?" Albrecht asked. "For it to re-spark your need for revenge?"

"No." Moula replied.

"I didn't want revenge until I saw that I could take it." Albrecht growled.

"Friends! Friends!" Sildar called out, arriving with the Redbrands. "Is everything okay?"

"It's not... Everything's... Not everything's okay." Atilius stuttered. "We have to talk to Halia Thornton. Hopefully we can-"

"Atilius," Moula interrupted. "Do you think you can explain this to her? Because if Albrecht goes in there, that's the end."

"What are you all talking about?" Sildar demanded.

"Can we have a second please?" Moula asked.

"Why don't you guys stay right here," Sildar suggested, "Or even better, maybe go relax back at the inn. I have business in the Miner's Exchange."

"Pertaining to what?" Albrecht asked.

"Apparently there was trouble there." Sildar explained.

"What kind of trouble." Albrecht rumbled.

"She's saying that she was assaulted." Sildar offered.

"By who?" Moula asked.

"Maybe you should all talk amongst yourselves." Sildar suggested.

"You mean with Halia?" Moula asked.

"No!" Sildar retorted. "Not with Halia. You guys. You guys can't just be threatening people in town. Halia's a staple of the community."

"We know." Moula replied. "This was not... It's complicated. I just want to work something out with Albrecht."

"Good." Sildar replied. "You go work stuff out. Why don't you go work stuff out at the inn."

"I think that's a good idea." Moula agreed.

Sildar turned and continued on the Miner's Exchange, with his Redbrands in tow.

"Please." Moula begged.

Albrecht plunged his rapier into the dirt.

Meanwhile Sildar entered the Miner's Exchange.

"Is anyone hurt?" Atilius asked, looking over to the Redbrands and the Miners.

"No." One of the miner's called back. "We're fine."

"We're so sorry for everything we've done." Atilius offered.

Eventually Sildar emerged. "Are you guys going to be okay?"

"Yes," Moula responded, "but we're not done yet."

"Do you mind moving it along?" Sildar inquired. "I mean, I'm glad that Lee's not here. But right now you shouldn't be anywhere near the Miner's Exchange."

"Why are you saying that?" Atilius asked. "What was happening with Halia?"

"Apparently Lee went in there and smashed her desk and threatened her." Sildar explained.

Moula gasped.

"Do you really think Lee would do such a thing?" Atilius asked.

"I just saw the desk.." Sildar explained.

"Did you hear the whole thing?" Moula asked.

"I only heard what Halia told me." Sildar explained.

"Did you hear anything that happened before that?" Moula asked.

"I wasn't there." Sildar explained.

"I mean did she tell you about anything from before Lee smashed her desk?" Moula went on.

"No." Sildar answered. "She just told me that Lee came in and threatened her and smashed her desk and it's smashed."

"Let me ask you a question." Albrecht began. "Why would Lee do that?"

"I don't know why he would." Sildar responded.

"Because he wouldn't do it randomly." Albrecht suggested. "That's not something Lee would do."

"Lee's a pretty impulsive guy." Sildar offered. "You must know this."

"He wouldn't smash someone's desk just because he wanted to." Moula defended.

"I don't know why he did," Sildar conjectured, "but he didn't look all together when I just saw him. That's why I'm suggested that you should go take care of him."

"We will." Moula and Atilius promised.

Albrecht turned and dragged his rapier back towards the center of town, with Moula and Atilius behind him.

Moula led them to the town green to cool off.

Meanwhile Lee, Pippin, and Turenim had walked past the center of town, continuing on to the north.

"I'll talk to you a little bit," Lee began, still sobbing. "But after that can I just talk to Pippin."

"Lee," Pippin began. "I'll tell you what Halia said to me. There's no secret society. That was a joke. And she said she wanted to show me something tomorrow that would take a long time, so she wanted to meet me in the middle of the day, I was going to go to the Miner's Exchange to meet her, and she was going to bring me to the mines and show me her operation. And I was assuming there might be something shady going on, so I was going to go and check it out, and see, and if there was nothing shady going on then it would be great, and then I would leave."

"So," Turenim began "It's good that you told us, I think. Because it would be bad if you went and did that on your own."

"I just didn't want to compromise..." Pippin started. "Yeah but you didn't even give me a chance to explain. It was just about one minute in between when I got back to when Lee stormed out."

"And that's all Halia Thornton had said?" Turenim pressed.

"Yes." Pippin responded. "And she also, at first, she tried to make me feel good about myself by saying 'you're such a good adventurer, and your so competent for your age.' And I use my keen abilities to recognize that she may be trying to get me to loosen my inhibitions. Cause I'm such a genius. That's why I was trying to do a covert tactical mission that you guys compromised. I had a plan. And then Lee whips out his frackin' sword and starts charging at people."

"So," Turenim started. "That may be true, Pippin, but I am happy you told us."

"And I think it was a mistake." Pippin admitted, "and I won't do it again."

"What, tell us?" Turenim asked?

"Lie." Pippin explained.

"That's good." Turenim acknowledged.

"Because that led to a terrible situation that I did not want." Pippin went on.

"That just goes to show what lying does for you."

"What do you want, Turenim?" Lee moaned.

"I want to make sure everything is okay." Turenim replied. "I want to make sure-"

"I mean out of me." Lee interjected. "Is there something you want me to say? Do I have to explain myself? Every single time I tried to trust someone in my life, I've been stabbed right in the back, and it hurts. The same wound over and over again. All I wanted to do was protect someone I cared about. It was a bad decision. But, you know, I didn't kill her when I had her alone the first time. And that was because of you."

"Well, that's why I want to be here." Turenim replied. "I'd like to be here for this conversation, because I think it's important to be there for the people I care about in this world. I mean I know what what you're saying. But I'll say again, I think taking some time is always helpful.

"So Pippin, you wouldn't care if Atilius scanned you to see if you're lying?"

"Scanned my thoughts?" Pippin asked, and Turenim nodded. "I don't care."

"Well we might as well do that, just to go through the motions." Turenim suggested.

"I just want to say," Lee mumbled, "I don't deserve to be here."

"Well you're here." Pippin replied.

"What do you mean by that?" Turenim pried.

"I mean I'm in the halls of like, one of, you know, mister magic and Pippin and Moula who've killed everything single thing on this planet and still have a morale code, and you who's come back from the dead just because they felt like it. And I'm just... me."

"So," Turenim began, "what makes us special isn't that I came back from the dead, or that Moula can hit really fast and really hard, and you can do that too-"

"No, that's just because I've got magic crap."

"So do we all, but that's not the point, because that's not why we're here. We're here because of the people we are and what we're trying to do, and right now what we're trying to do, is, I believe, and you can check your book, is rescue Sister Garaele, and that doesn't have anything to do with how hard you can hit, and so that's what it's really all about. Don't worry about the rest of it."

"Put me in the stockades if you need to." Lee mumbled. "Throw up a guillotine in the town center."

"That's not how I do things." Turenim replied.

"Well, I deserve it." Lee continued.

"Evil in your heart is still better than blood spilled, and while I'm not going to overlook what happened today, I wouldn't be handing out punishment either." Turenim went on. "That's not going to help anyone."

"I don't deserve to be in the party." Lee whined.

"Why is that?" Pippin asked.

"Because I'm an frakhead." Lee muttered. "You guys are great."

"Lee, now's your chance to be better." Pippin encouraged. "You don't have to be like this for the rest of your life."

"For what rest of my life?" Lee asked. "For two years until I flop over dead in somebody's garden."

"For a greater cause in the world." Turenim charged.

"It's not like you're old and senile." Pippin said. "You're still functioning like almost an adult man. I mean, for your age you're a god."

"Can I say something to Pippin." Lee begged.

"I want to ask you, why do you want to speak to Pippin." Turenim suggested.

"I want to tell him something very deep and personal.." Lee returned.

"You don't have to answer me." Turenim started. "But I want you to think, really, why you want to ask Pippin, and not me. Just think about that. I'm going to go check on Albrecht."

"You can stay if you want..." Lee called out, and Turenim halted.

"Pippin," Lee started, putting his hand on Pippin's shoulder, "There's nothing more in the world that I want than to see you reach your full potential as a human being. That's all I want. And, that's all I try to do, from the moment I wake up to the minute I go to bed, is try and help you, and protect you, and be there for you, to try and become a better person. And I'm so bad at it. I wish you so much better, because you mean so much to me. I'm going to try my hardest to teach you as much as I can about the world, and show you the light of good people who have done great things, unlike myself. I want you to thrive in the world. I don't want you to end up back on the streets of Neverwinter, looking for pocket change, or out killing people for fun in some gang, or dead at the hands of someone who you never really knew."

"Then stay" Pippin said.

"That's why you need to be alive, Lee." Turenim urged.

"That's why your life matters." Pippin said. "If it doesn't matter for yourself it matters for me. That's why you can't throw yourself at people when you're angry."

"Then I need you to help me Pippin." Lee mumbled.

"I will" Pippin promised.

Lee threw his arms around Pippin, and Pippin returned the embrace.

The began to head back into town when Pippin chimed, "Have you noticed Sildar and the Redbrands? How they're getting so close? Do you think that might be a problem? With Sildar having so much control over the Redbrands, do you think the gang might get reformed?"

"Who knows." Lee replied.

"I think we should keep our eye on them." Pippin suggested.

"I think we should keep our eye on everything Pippin." Lee replied. "You're a smart kid."

"It's a good point." Turenim offered. "I was going say, did you know my parents were not the best people. And it's hard to say, but, um, but maybe by their nature, or maybe by fate, they did some horrible things, and I guess they did it for me in a twisted way, and you know that's what keeps me going. Trying to get back... back to a good path. And I think that's where we all are. Trying to help other people and trying to make up for our own problems, and, you know, it's tough."

"I understand." Lee admitted.

As they got back into town, they saw Sildar with the Redbrands standing outside of the inn. "Are you guys okay?" he called out to them.

"Yes." Turenim assured him.

"As okay as we can be." Lee included.

"Can you guys give me your word that there won't be any more trouble tonight?" Sildar asked.

"Yes." They all replied in unison.

"Okay, great." Sildar said, relieved. "Look, your friends are over in the town green."

They headed over to the town green where Albrecht was still fuming and grumbling about vengeance and swinging his rapier around.

"Turenim" Sildar called out. "Can I have a word?"

"Yes." Turenim replied, meeting him halfway.

"Listen I understand that there are no rooms available for you at the inn," Sildar started, "but you're welcome to stay in the cellar at the manor. We can work things out tomorrow."

"Thank you," Turenim replied, "and sorry for all of this."

"Thank you for keeping things together." Sildar offered.

"I'm doing my best." Turenim replied.

Sildar left and Turenim returned to the group. "Albrecht," he started. "We need to calm down. Today has been pretty bad and we all need to calm down. Okay?"

"With or without you I will have my revenge." Albrecht pledged, putting his sword away.

"We talked about this, and we all agreed last time that the best thing to do was to just move on." Turenim urged. "Now if you want to reevaluate that, that's fine, but yelling at the sky is not going to do anything. You can speak to us."

Moula pulled Turenim aside. "You... He was just yelling. This is better than the way is was before. He was just yelling. If he wants to yell, let him yell. Before he was going to attack these people."

"Okay." Turenim relented.

Atilius approached Lee. "First of all, how are you feeling? Are you there?" Lee nodded. "Second of all, can you tell me exactly what happened? Did you go into Halia Thornton's office?"

"Can we do this tomorrow?" Lee mumbled.

"Sildar was telling us some things." Atilius said.

"What about it?" Lee asked.

"He told me what Halia Thornton said about you." Atilius admitted. That you went into her office, and you assaulted or smashed her table. I don't think you did that. Did you do that?"

"I don't know." Lee muttered. "I don't really know, because these gauntlets are really hard to control."

"What?" Pippin asked, incredulously.

"I don't really know if I smashed the table or not." Lee declared. "But I put my hands on it."

"Did you smash the table?" Pippin asked intently.

"I don't really know." Lee repeated.

"How do you not know?" Pippin accused.

"Because I put my hands on it..." Lee acknowledged.

"Did the table smash when you put your hands on it?" Pippin asked.

"I wasn't really looking at it." Lee explained. "I was looking dead in her eyes."

"Sildar is saying that-" Turenim began.

"I might have." Lee admitted.

"Okay," Turenim continued. "We can pay damages."

"I'll take it out of my pocket." Lee offered. "It's cool."

"Maybe we should go over there right now," Pippin suggested, "and clear this right up."

"I don't think that's a good idea." Moula countered.

"I think we should sleep on it." Lee said.

"Well I don't think we should go over there with Albrecht." Atilius declared.

"I think we need to give it a rest for now." Moula maintained.

They agreed to work things out with Sildar in the morning, and headed towards the manor.

Back in the cellar, they decided to examine the crevasse. Pippin walked down to the bottom and noted it was unnaturally cold. Atilius cast identify and revealed that the necromantic energy emanating from the bottom of would cause all organic matter in the crevasse to age and decompose at half the normal rate. Turenim cast augury and asked about the outcome of dispelling the magic in the crevasse. The answer was neither weal nor woe. He cast gentle repose on Julius again and pondered the ways the crevasse might be useful.

Finally, they all got some sleep.

• • •

The next morning they woke refreshed. Turenim and Atilius no longer felt the drain from the shadows. They gathered themselves and went to visit Sildar at the Townmaster's Hall.

"Gentlemen," he greeted them. "What can I help you with? I hope cooler tempers have prevailed this morning."

"Yeah," Turenim began, "I want to apologize for-"

"We all want to apologize." Atilius interrupted.

"Can I do it myself?" Lee asked. "I'm sorry for what happened last night, though I do feel that Halia Thornton is very rude, and not a good person. That's personal opinion, and I shouldn't have taken it beyond that."

"Lee, we've known each for a while." Sildar replied. "What did Halia do for you to smash her desk and threaten her?"

"She threatened me first." Lee accused.

"What did she say?" Sildar inquired.

"Something along the lines of I'm a weak old man, and I shouldn't be around Pippin, because he's, you know, better than me, and he can handle himself."

"Well that's certainly rude," Sildar offered, "but that doesn't sound like a threat. Did she threaten your life?"

"No." Lee admitted.

"Did you threaten hers?" Sildar

"I did after she did." Lee mumbled. "Or I thought she did."

"Because all I can see is that you smashed her desk." Sildar indicated.

"I didn't mean to." Lee added.

"Okay." Sildar accepted, tentatively.

"I'll pay for it." Lee offered.

"For whatever it's worth," Sildar began, "she said she's not worried about it. But she just wants you to stay clear of her."

"Then I'll stay clear of her," Lee offered, "if she stays clear of me."

"That's probably for the best. I mean for whatever it's worth, I mentioned this before, Halia is a respected member of the community. She's done a lot for the community. And she continues to. Everyone respects you all, and everybody is grateful for all that you've done, but we have to uphold the laws here."

"Yes, of course" Lee acknowledged.

"So it's probably just best if you all stay clear of Halia Thornton." Sildar repeated. "If you all are going to be staying in town for all while, we can try to make better arrangements in the cellar. No one has touched it since you left."

"I wanted to talk to you about that." Turenim interjected.

"Alright." Sildar waited.

"I wanted to renovate the place." Turenim announced. "Do you know what would be involved in that? I've never done anything like that before."

They discussed plans for occupying the Tresendar Manor cellar while Turenim rebuilds the manor proper.

Afterwards, they decided that Turenim would accompany Pippin to visit Halia, fearing that it might not be safe for Pippin to visit her alone. Moula wanted to go as well, but was afraid to leave Lee and Albrecht. Atilius suggest he follow invisibly, but everyone agreed there were too many things could go wrong. Pippin assured them that nothing was going to go wrong, but agreed to have Turenim accompany him.

First Turenim wanted to let Sildar know their plans. He explained that he didn't think Halia had done anything wrong, but it's really causing problems in the party. "Pippin and I are going to go talk to her and smooth things over."

"Turenim, she expressly asked that you all just stay clear of her." Sildar reminded them. "What did she do to you, or to Lee?"

"I don't know for sure-" Turenim confessed.

"Do you know, Pippin?" Sildar asked.

"I'm not sure." Pippin told him.

"But I don't think she really did anything." Turenim disclose. "And I know that she doesn't want to talk to us, and I understand that, but, but I think it will be for the best."

"Look, Turenim," Sildar replied. "I trust you, but I think this is a bad idea.

"You know... you don't need my permission." Sildar acknowledged.

"Yeah," Turenim conceded, "well, I want to tell you."

"Well I'm telling you, I think this is a bad idea. She expressly requested that you all just stay clear of her. I think that's reasonable. One of your party, I don't know if he assaulted her, but he definitely damaged her room. I saw it for myself. Unless you think she's making it up, which I find really hard to believe."

"I don't." Turenim admitted.

"You know, she's been here way before we got here." Sildar reminded them. "She's running the mining operation. She brings in a lot of revenue."

"Alright..." Turenim started. "I know. I think she's a good person, and I really think that we need to do this, as selfish as this sounds, for us. For our own ability to keep on going forward. To have quick talk. To smooth things out. To apologize. We'll make things better. And to appease our own-"

"Alright," Sildar interrupted. "Look, like I said Turenim... You know one thing you might want to ask yourself is, who are you doing this for? Are you doing this for her, or are you doing this for yourself? But like I said: you don't need my permission. As long as you're not breaking any laws, I've got nothing to do with it. I respect both of you."

"Thank you." Turenim said. "I wanted to let you know."

On the way Turenim warned Pippin to be serious and not impulsive, rash, or violent, unless he knew for sure, with no doubt, that he should be. And to not get separated.

When they arrived at the Miner's Exchange, one of the four miners hanging around outside gave them a glance and went quickly inside.

"Hello." Turenim announced. "Gentlemen, I'm Turenim Dawnbring-"

"Of course, we all know who you are, Turenim." One of the miners replied. "Pippin."

"We're here to talk to Halia," Turenim explained, "and try to smooth things over."

"Halia doesn't want to ta-" the miner began, when the door opened and the other miner ushered them in.

Halia stood from her desk as they entered. "Pippin. Turenim. What can I do for you?"

"I wanted to talk about what happened yesterday. I'm really sorry." Turenim stated. "I'm really sorry that that had to happen to you. And mostly I just want to apologize."

"Why do you think that happened, Turenim?" Halia asked.

"Um, I'm not totally sure, but, why do you..." Turenim stuttered.

"Do you know why he flew off the handle?" Halia asked.

"Why?" Turenim asked.

"Tell him, Pippin" Halia suggested. "Why did he fly off the handle?"

"Why?" Pippin responded. "You tell me."

"Well," Halia began, "What did I ask you to do?"

"To come to the mine?" Pippin answered. "Or to come here, by myself."

"All I asked," Halia explained, "was that we could meet one on one."

"That's true," Pippin admitted. "That's all she asked."

"And he lost it. Look what he did to my desk." Halia said, indicated the deep gashes in her desk. "Now I don't care about that. But just think about that. All I asked was that I could talk to Pippin, who runs around with you, killing orcs and goblins and bugbears, and now ogres, all of which we are all grateful for. He's obviously a very capable young man." Turenim nodded his agreement. "And this old dog just loses it, because someone asks to speak to Pippin alone? What kind of control freak do you have with you? It seems a little unreasonable."

"He's very protective." Turenim offered in defense. "He care deeply for Pippin's safety, but yeah, he overreacted. I've never seen anything like this..."

"You know this happened right after I paid you for clearing out the mine." Halia began.

"We're grateful." Turenim interjected.

"And I'm grateful too." Halia acknowledged. "You know I'm hoping that we can work together. As it happens, I have an opportunity for Pippin that I would like to discuss with him alone."

"So," Turenim began, "Why do you have to discuss it with him alone?"

"What's the problem with discussing it with him alone." She turned to Pippin, "Pippin is there a problem with us talking alone?"

"No, but it's fine that Turenim's here." Pippin urged. "Don't you trust Turenim?"

"The opportunity that I have is just for you. And if you want to tell them about it, then you can tell them about it afterwards."

"Now normally I don't think this would be an issue, but because of everything that's happened-" Turenim began.

"What has happened?" Halia demanded.

"Within our party," Turenim insisted. "Nothing you have done. With everything that has happened within our party, I really want to make it clear to Lee and others that you have no problems and so normally when you say, 'can I speak to Pippin alone?' and I say, 'Can I be there?' I think, you know, who knows..."

"Well let me make this clear," she declared, "Pippin, I have an opportunity for you. I would like to discuss it with you alone. When you're ready to have that conversation, let me know. If you want to have that conversation right now, we can go out back and we can have that conversation right now, and nobody needs to know. Turenim, if you want to make yourself comfortable while we have that conversation, you're more than welcome to. This conversation can be quick, or it can take a little bit of time. I would like to spend some time with you. I have some information that I think you would like to keep to hear privately. If that's not acceptable Pippin, and Pippin I'm talking to you, that's okay. You don't have to hear me out."

"Look, I will promise to you, that if you offer Pippin a business proposal or a business opportunity, with no moral qualms that I would have, that I will not act on it, in whatever way is appropriate. If that is your concern, than I am happy to swear to Lathander that I will not act on it. So it seems to me that the only reason that you want confidentiality that I could possibly imagine would be something dubious. And I'm not saying-"

"You know what, Turenim," Halia interrupted, "I think this conversation has come to an end. You might have come here with a little bit more composure, but you obviously have as little respect for Pippin as Lee does. None of you trust him"

"I do trust Pippin." Turenim insisted.

"Apparently you don't, because you all think that everything's fine as long as you're there, but Pippin cannot have a conversation outside of your presence."

"The conversation is not what worries me," Turenim began.

"The bottom line is that you don't trust Pippin." Halia repeated.

"That's not true." Turenim insisted. "That's not true. If I could-"

"Pippin," Halia turned to the boy, "I'm talking to you. You heard what I had to say. If you want to hear-"

"You clearly do not trust me." Turenim contended.

"My business is not with you!" Halia scolded. "That's what it is. It's that my business is not with you."

"I want to hear your offer." Pippin chimed in.

"Then let's go take a walk." Halia offered.

"Let's do it." Pippin agreed.

"Are you sure?" Turenim questioned, "that you can-"

"Trust me." Pippin urged. "It will be fine."

"Can you guarantee Pippin's safety?" Turenim asked Halia.

"Why is this even a question?" Halia demanded.

"Because of the amount of strength that you're putting into this privacy." Turenim explained. "The sheer-"

"This is something that shouldn't even be a conversation." Halia pressed. "This only got blown out of proportion, because a disgruntled old man, who's overprotective, flew off the handle. If what you're saying is true Turenim, then you must admit, that if that had not have been the case, then none of this would even be a question. Nobody questions having a conversation. We're not going out into the woo-"

"I'm not questioning conversation," Turenim explained. "I'm questioning secrecy."

"If I want to tell Pippin a secret, that's between him and I. You are suggesting," she turned to Pippin, "he is suggesting that you're not allowed to be told something in private."

"That's not what I'm saying." Turenim insisted. "I'm not-"

"So then let me go." Pippin countered.

"So then why is this a concern?" Halia probed. "Why does he need your permission to be let go."

"Just let me go." Pippin repeated.

"So, so do you, you don't see how this is more than simple secrecy?" Turenim asked.

"No, this is secrecy." Halia declared. "I would like to have a private conversation with Pippin, and none of you will afford him the dignity of making that decision for himself!"

"So, that, that's-" Turenim began. "Had things gone differently, you may have been able to speak with Pippin. But the way that things-"

"But I'm not changing my position because of Lee." Halia maintained.

"But the only reason for you to speak to Pippin privately at this point, and to not allow me to be there, despite my promise, is either that you don't believe my word-.

"No," Halia interrupted."You're overlooking something, Turenim. I wanted to have a private conversation with Pippin originally-"

"Why?" Turenim insisted.

"It's private!" Halia maintained. "It's not any of your business. Unless Pippin decides to make it your business. That's his choice. I'm not going to be swayed because of some impulsive old man flying off the handle."

"I'm not saying you should be." Turenim explained.

"So then nothing has changed for me." Halia continued. "I have an offer for Pippin. It's between me and Pippin. Pippin is younger than all of you. None of you can do what I have to offer Pippin."

"So then why do you care if I hear it?" Turenim demanded.

"Because it's none of your business," Halia maintained. "It's my decision. This is not a negotiation. You can leave. And Pippin can leave."

"Pippin is a good person," Turenim began, "and the emphasis that you're put-"

"I know." Halia interrupted. "I know. If he wasn't I wouldn't have asked to talk with him."

"I have something to say." Pippin cut in. "Just let me go alone."

"The emphasis you're putting on secrecy," Turenim continued, "is clearly-"

"No, it is privacy." Halia maintained. "Not all of your business is for public consumption. Look, I have a business to run here."

"Do you trust me?" Turenim challenged.

"No, I don't." Halia countered. "I don't need to trust you. You're not making yourself trustworthy. You're trying to impose yourself in everybody else's business."

"What can I do to make you trust me?" Turenim asked. "Because-"

"You can but out!" Halia demanded. "This has nothing to do with you. You're not Pippin's guardian. And neither is Lee. Pippin is his own man. More than capable of taking care of himself. And you all seem to treat him like that's not the case."

"This would be very different if you had handled things differently." Turenim suggested.

"What should I have handled differently?" Halia challenged.

"You should not have had to tip Pippin a note." Turenim accused.

"I wanted to have a private conversation with Pippin, and I had someone let him know." Halia asserted. "There's nothing wrong with that! It's not immoral. It was none of your business. I was busy, so I had someone deliver my message. It's as simple as that. There's nothing underhanded going on here."

"No," Turenim maintained, "it is different from a regular conversation. And what reason do you have not to trust me?"

"It's none of your business!" Halia maintained. "It's not that-"

"She's right." Pippin chimed in.

"His safety is not a concern here." Halia reiterated. "You just don't trust him. It seems like none of you do. You take him along, running around with you-"

"What am I not going to trust him over?" Turenim asked.

"To make decisions for himself." Halia asserted.

"Your business proposal?" Turenim asked.

"Yes." Halia maintained. "Yes. It's a conversation I want to have with him, and there's no reason for me to negotiate about this. Listen, I think you should leave. If you want to stay here while I talk to Pippin, like I said, you can make yourself comfortable. If that's not acceptable, Pippin, then you should go. I have other business to attend to. I have a large business to run here. I'm sorry things have to go this way."

"I will..." Turenim stuttered.

"We're on her property." Pippin whispered. "We have to leave."

"Turenim, you're not supposed to be here." Halia asserted.

"Just let me handle this." Pippin urged.

"Are you sure?" Turenim asked.

"Yes." Pippin assured him.

Are you sure you want to do this?" Turenim repeated.

"Yes," Pippin quickly responded.

"And are you sure that you want to-" Turenim began.

"I'm sure," Pippin replied. "Just trust me."

"Alright." Turenim accepted.

"Don't let this become worse than it has to be," Pippin suggested. "Just leave. It's her property."

"If you want to stay here and make yourself comfortable Turenim, then go right ahead." Halia offered. "If that would make things easier for your party you can stay right here."

Pippin rose and Halia led him out the back door.

"Can we take a walk Pippin?" Halia asked, once they were outside.

"Yeah." Pippin answered casually.

"I hope that you trust me." Halia went on as she led him down the Miners' Trail. "I hope I haven't given you any reason to have this concern. But it definitely reinforces the whole reason I wanted to talk with you. You have done incredible things. And you know this. But it's obvious that they don't really respect your potential. And that's a shame. What I wanted to ask you... What do you want? What to you want to do. What do you want to be? What do you want out of life? What do you want out of adventuring?"

"I don't know." Pippin replied.

"Think it about it." Halia suggested. "And let's talk about this again. You have incredible potential. You're running around with these heroes, and you're one of the heroes. How old are you?"

"Thirteen." Pippin answered.

"Thirteen." Halia remarked. "And look what you've accomplished. Who else can say that? You all... You killed Glasstaff. You're the one that did it. I knew he was a threat to this town. I wanted him taken care of. I knew that that was the only way to take care of him. And you did it. You got it done. From what I understand you get a lot done."

"Thank you." Pippin responded.

"And I hope you're being compensated for it." Halia hinted. "Are you?"

"I am." Pippin answered.

"How?" Halia inquired.

"I get my fair share of the loot." Pippin defended. "And I find my own loot," he added.

"Because when I look at you," Halia remarked, "you're wearing a cloak that doesn't fit you. You have these two swords that look like you got them at Barthen's. Don't you think you deserve more than that?"

"I think I do, but," Pippin agreed. "I'm taking what I can get."

"Well," Halia suggested,. "I think the world has a lot more to offer you."

"And I'm thirteen, so" Pippin refuted, "Of course-"

"Do you get less of a share because you're thirteen?" Halia inquired.

"No." Pippin answered.

"Okay, that's good," Halia conceded. "Because you can see the way they treat you. They don't even let you speak for yourself."

"Sometimes it's aggravating, but, I am a child." Pippin admitted.

"Let me tell you a bit about myself," Halia began, "just so you can know me better."

Halia proceeded to tell Pippin about herself as they made their way to one of the closer mines. She told him about how she started the Mining Exchange from scratch. How she invested some gold, and reinvested, and developed a good network of people working for her."

"Where were you born?" Halia asked.

"Neverwinter." Pippin replied.

"Do you know your parents?" Halia asked.

"Yes." Pippin answered.

"What kind of means do they come from?" Halia asked.

"Well, my father's father was an adventurer." Pippin recounted. A wizard. He made a lot of gold, but the adventuring took a toll on on him and he died when he was young. So my father was left with a lot of gold, but not very much parenting. He grew up in Neverwinter. He was a reasonably rich man. He married my mother and they had me, and when I was young they were kidnapped and killed, and I spent some time as an urchin, living from every little measly portion of food I could get, until I heard of gold in the foothills of Phandalin, and I made my way, traveling with caravans, and I found myself wrapped up in the Redbrands."

"Lee said he was your father." Halia inquired.

"No," Pippin explained, "but he's been taken care of me, and I really appreciate it."

"That's good." Halia responded. "I can see you must all take care of each other."

"We do." Pippin agreed.

"That's good," Halia repeated, "because you don't really need a father at this point. You need friends just like everyone else." Pippin nodded. "And I'm glad that they all care about you. I guess what bothers me is that, if I had wanted to speak with Lee, do you think there would have been any issue with it?"

"Probably not as much as with me." Pippin admitted.

"Or with anybody else in the group?" Halia questioned. "Would anyone have objected?"

"Maybe not." Pippin guessed.

"It's just not right." Halia declared. "I would just like to see them... You deserve more respect than that. I'm not trying to pull you away from them, and I hope you can recognize that. I don't know. It's just a shame, and it makes me feel bad. You know I was a little like you when I was a young girl, but I'll tell you, I had not done the things that you've done. But I had ambitions! And... I don't think I was afforded the amount of respect that I deserved. So I hate to see it happen to someone else. It just bothers me. And that's why. I'm not trying to tear you away from them. You all have done a lot for me. You got rid of Glasstaff. you brought down the Redbrands, and know Sildar is able to run a town militia, and it's a lot safer. We were invaded, and you were there. You got the mines working for Gundren. I wish I could have had a piece of that investment, but it seems like that opportunity slipped through my fingers. It happens. I guess it's their birthright. Hopefully they run it well."

"Hopefully." Pippin agreed.

"I have some concerns about how they're going to run it." Halia continued. "I hope they pay their fair share of the taxes. But anyway, I'll be fine either way. I have a very successful business, and there's is not the only mine. That's one. And I have many. Who knows what's there. My understanding is that the forge was not all it was made out to be, but it was a mithral mine, so hopefully they will be successful. And I'm not worried about a little competition. Anyway, I have something for you, if you don't mind."

"Of course." Pippin consented.

"I want you to be safe." Halia began. "You like the shortswords?"

"Yeah."

"It seems to be your weapon of choice." Halia confirmed.

"Yeah."

"It sounds like you even have your signature move." Halia quipped.

"Indeed."

By this time they were inside an office in the mine. "Have a seat." Halia offered, gesturing to a comfortable sofa. She opened a chest and pulled out two shortswords. "What do you think of these?" she asked, handing them to him.
Yig and Yag: Magic shortswords of light and darkness

"They're awesome." Pippin amazed, having only seen their handles and sheathes. He unsheathed them one at a time. The first one had a bright silver blade.

"That's Yig." Halia told him. "It's made with mithral, and it's enchanted. Take a look at the other one."

Dazzled, Pippin unsheathed the other to find it had a dark matte finish.

"That's Yag." Halia added. "It's made with adamantine, and it's also enchanted."

"Thank you!" Pippin delighted, then cautiously added, "Do you want something in return for this?"

"All I want is your friendship Pippin." Halia responded. "And I want you to be well. I don't see you getting your fair share. I see Turenim has some fancy mace. Lee's decked to the gills. Atilius is walking around with two magic staffs. And something is going on with that bard. And you've got a cloak that doesn't fit right. It's not fair in my opinion. Just because you're younger than them, doesn't mean that you deserve less. I think that these will help you take care of yourself better. And that's what I want. And I hope we can do business again in the future."

"Me too." Pippin agreed.

"And I don't think I would ever ask you to do anything that you would find questionable." Halia added.

"Hopefully." Pippin agreed.

"I had some ideas for some armor for you, but none of the armor that I have would fit you." Halia added. "But I'll see what I can do. Give me some time."

"Alright," Pippin agreed, "Thank you!"

"In the meantime," Halia continued, "take those. You need to attune yourself to those, because Yig can cast light three times per day, and Yag can cast darkness, also three times per day."

"How do I do that?" Pippin asked, dropping his old swords where he stood.

"Just get to know them." Halia explained. "On the hilt there's command words. You'll understand as you get to know them."

Pippin noted that the hilts had the words "peza" and "lumo" on them.

Soon they began the walk back to the Miner's Exchange, making small talk along the way.

When they returned to the Miner's Exchange, Halia led Pippin to the door to the office where they had left Turenim waiting, and left him there. Pippin and Turenim left and headed back to the center of town.

"So, what happened?" Turenim asked, eagerly.

Pippin showed Turenim his new swords, and told him about them.

"And what did she want from you?" Turenim inquired.

"Nothing yet," Pippin replied, "but it seems like she wants to do more business in the future. Really, nothing else happened. I swear! We made small talk on the way there and back. She told me I was misrepresented in the party. She said the same thing she said to Lee. And I know it's not true, but, she does bring up some good points. Sometimes you guys gotta trust me a little more. But, I'm not saying I'm going to go and do her bidding, or anything like that. And I understand that she was being a little... for calling Lee names, for no reason."

"But you must also think this is a little suspicious." Turenim pried.

"Oh, for sure." Pippin agreed. "I thought that she was gonna, you know, ask me to do something shady, and then I was going to tell you and we were going to take her down, but it didn't really go as I expected. But I'm sure there might be something more interesting in the future."

"Well," Turenim began, "congratulations on the swords. It does seem very... shady."

They made their way back to the others in town.

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