Greetings, Most Honored Paladin,
From Dref Cefel, Bishop of Chastity
Member of the Holy Council;
After your skillful and successful recovery of the Sword of Light and the Holy Shield from the Vampiric Archipelago we have discussed what your next task should be, and have decided, through the grace of God, that you should, with the same courage and fortitude you have displayed in all of your endeavors, journey to the continent, that den of evil and iniquity, and make your way, with care and discretion, to the land that is known as the Fertile Plain and once there you shall, with bravery and initiative, reclaim the lands, for they produce much food, for the Church, so that we might feed our armies in the field. Unfortunately I am very busy and cannot answer any questions you might have, so you should direct your inquiries, if you should have any, to a man who you will find, if you need to look, at the Broken Limb, a most rough but goodhearted place, and his name is Ralph Betternot. Now go with my blessing and win another great victory for the Council,
Bishop of Chastity
M. H. C.
“Well. What’s it say?” Wain looked expectantly at Sir James.
“Here,” James tossed the parchment to his companion.
Wain threw it right back, “Come on, just tell me what it says.”
“Why can’t you just read it?” grumbled James.
“Because reading is not a skill worthy of a warrior of the mountain and,” Wain paused, looking embarrassed, “I can’t read. Ok.”
“Oh,” James shook his head, he kept forgetting how ignorant his barbarian friend was, “Ok.”
He had to read the message to Wain twice before the barbarian broke into a wide smile and said, “So we’re going to a bar. Huzzah.”
“Wain, we are at a bar,” Sir James reminded him.
“No, this is an inn,” Wain patiently explained, “There are rooms for travelers to stay in. A bar has no rooms, just booze.” He shook his head. He kept forgetting how ignorant his paladin friend was.
“Ok, fine. We’ll go to this bar and talk to Betternot. Betternot what, I wonder?”
“Betternot want us to buy him drinks, that’s what,” said Wain quickly.
“Well,” said James, rising from the remains of their breakfast, “Maybe you’d better not come.”
“Oh no,” replied Wain even more quickly, “You won’t know how to hang out in a bar. I’d better go along and make sure that you don’t get in trouble.”
“Oh, I see,” James strode through the door and down the street, “I can take care of myself, thank you very much.”
“James,” called Wain, pointing in the opposite direction, “It’s this way.”
“How do you know that?”
“I just asked the barmaid.”
“Oh,” James paused, “Well I was going to walk around the block first, that breakfast seemed rather heavy and I must keep in shape. Toodle-oo!” He sauntered back off the wrong way. Wain followed at a discreet distance to make sure that he kept out of trouble. By the time they arrived at the Broken Limb Wain keenly felt the need for a relaxing beer. He started to feel better the minute they walked through the door and into the rough, but good hearted establishment.
It certainty was a rough place. Wain strode through several fist fights, brushing the local toughs aside like flies, his powerful physique discouraging retaliation, on his way up to the bar. He discovered shortly after he sat at a corner table with James and Betternot that the beer was most excellent and he leaned back while James questioned Betternot.
“I’m to go the Fertile Plain and reestablish communications with them. Anything you can tell me about the place?”
“Well,” Betternot sipped his beer, “The entire area is squished between two rivers. There used to be bridges in and out but I haven’t been out there for a while. It is an odd place. The Church doesn’t like it known but there are actually several tribes of orcs out there that manage to get along with the humans well enough. It used to be quite a rich area, due to the amount of grain they put out. Their symbol was a stalk of wheat. Maybe it still is, I honestly don’t know. Another thing that is not common knowledge is that the Church already sent out a party to do this. There were four or five experienced crusaders who went out while you were working over that archipelago. We haven’t heard from them since before they crossed the river. That is really all I know, thanks for the beer.” Betternot rose from his chair and seemed to disappear before James eyes into the crowded bar room.
“What do we do?” asked Wain.
“Five experienced crusaders died out there,” James spoke distantly and miserably, “What hope do we have?”
“So we stay here and drink some more beer?” suggested Wain, hopefully.
“Nay,” James restored some of the confidence that paladins are famous for, “My honor shalt ne’r be sated till this task is accomplished. With bravery and fortitude we shall carry on.” He got up and headed for the door with a stony face.
“Why are you talking all funny?” inquired Wain, as he followed.
“It was supposed to sound inspiring,” said James, rather coldly.
Wain had no response to this. Instead he chewed on a piece of meat that he knicked from a street vendor’s cart.
“You just ate breakfast,” protested James, suddenly he clapped his hands to his head, “Oh no, I have been drinking, and before midday! What will the Holy Council say?!”
“Relax, they’ll just say,” Wain swallowed, “There goes a seasoned warrior. Know how they know. You get your drinks when you can and don’t expect to get back for more.” He grinned like this was a cheerful piece of news.
“We’re going to die,” James said in a distant and miserable voice (he seemed to be developing quite a talent for it), “And my only assistance is a crazed barbarian.”
“Yes,” responded Wain heartily, slapping James on the back, “Crazed by hunger and thirst for adventure and…”
Speaking back and forth with all the fervor and warmth of old friends they continued their way to the quays where they found a boat waiting to take them to the mainland, that den of evil and iniquity!