This portion of A Crimson Shore (17.4-17.6) is based on an adventure run from Dungeon Magazine, the final hard printed issue 150, called Quoth the Raven by Nicolas Logue. The following is my narrative of our illustrious Urchins, after I ran an adventure loosely based on this amazing work. Thank you all for following our journey in the Realm, the Lights in the Darkness of Cellinor thus far!
“Catch him quick!” hollered Zy’an, and he and Areia broke the bard’s fall as he tilted backwards. The audience gasped, as the five of them walked out of the mist and swirling fog that had tried to cling around their bodies. They came to a fully lighted position there at center stage. There could be no doubt. The saviors of Far Realm had returned!
“How can it be? What is the meaning of this? By the Light’s Holy Radiance, do I witness this miracle!” Came the voices, the gasps. Even the drunken dwarf in the back whom had obviously been given a free ticket sat up straight. “Nowbthis is entherblainment,” he tried to bellow before belching a time or two.
Zy’an and Iricah came to stand next to Tuatha. Areia produced some smelling salts and after placing it under his nose, the bard’s eyes shot back wide while his body trembled. It smelled like he had wet himself too. The evidence of his shame ran along his legs, soaking through his purple leggings. Zy’an whispered into his ear. “I’d suggest you sing a new song, Governor.”
He looked wildly at them all, a huge smile still plastered on his face. His gaze finally rested on Iricah, perhaps seeking sympathy that would not be coming. She simply began to strum her lyre. “How shall I know the… lyrics?” he barked in a whisper in her ear. He gave a little hoot between the second to last of the words he spoke because Areia’s dagger was well placed in his backside.
“Just follow along Tuatha,” smiled Iricah. “We’re giving you the chorus anyway.”
“Ladies and gentlemen!” yelled Frank. “We….have….returned!!!” The crowd cheered. Questions erupted like the island volcanoes. How? When?
“Allow me to explain!” came the voice of Tuatha. But the bard was as surprised as he could be, for it was voice, but the words were not his. Iricah was using a magical mouth spell to speak for him, while Frank’s divine prayer silenced him. His eyes grew wide.
“Don’t worry, my one, my true,” whispered the rogue, digging her dagger in deeper between his vertebrae, “This is to be your greatest ballad!”
Now, tales of that moment still are told by bard and teller alike. To be sure, nary a pirate in the isles for years afterwards would say they themselves were not present. And although the tellers have spread many versions of what was sung there upon that stage, the actual ballad went something like this.
“Later that night, aboard the great ship of Galline
We heard oars in the distance, from danger unseen,
And what should my eyes behold from the sea,
But m’lords hadn’t died a’tall, and returned to me!”
I then wet my pants, just as I’ve now done.
For I’d left them to rot, my cowardice like make-up had run.
And then I did soil myself too, for what can you do?
When you’re a coward and liar and ghastly fiend too?
Climbing aboard, the heroes returned bloodied red and raw
they smote me time and again, until I cried like a mangy dog.
They declared I’d wait years in false lordship, while their chosen hires came
The amazing Cheillini Brothers, Lords of sometime Celn fame.”
“We are gone to parts unknown they did say
Be good Tuatha, do not bring us more shame.
And tonight I do declare I have failed in this task
Is there anyone who can launder my pants now, I must only ask?”
The bard, whose horrified eyes told them all the amazing ballad Iricah had concocted had it’s desired effect, fell backwards and lay upon the floor. The others stood in front of the stage and took a bow. Flowers were thrown upon the stage, and the crowd erupted into chants of their names. Especially Areia, who leaned against Thrak and laughed at the lunacy of it all.
“But where have you been? Why have you not come here to The Landing these many years?” cried a voice from the crowd.
“Dead men tell no tales,” cried Areia. “But they do buy their friend’s ale! To The Bucket, lads and lasses! We’ve got a few anniversaries to celebrate! And we’ve got to meet these Cheillini Brothers we keep hearing about!”
A great cheering erupted and some even threw their hats into the air. The Landing’s namesake had returned, and so had it’s name.
“My lords,” said a small and rather squeaky voice. It was Billingsweed, the gnomish accountant who had earlier confirmed their writ from the king. He pushed through the boisterous crowd, flushed from ear to ear. His voice was urgent. “This has just arrived for…eh hem….the Lords of Areia’s Landing. It arrived by raven, m’lords!” Billingsweed said the word confusedly and with a hint of concern that grabbed Iricah’s attention. He looked around, “But I can’t find the Cheillini Brothers anywhere! Can I give it to you? I fear lives may be at stake!”
Zy’an’s intuition buzzed. Ravens were not used to carry messages in the isles. Except this one was.
Frank took the small scroll rolled for transport by bird messenger, and unraveled it. The words scrawled across the paper were written in red ink and Frank realized that it was blood. As he held the paper, he also realized the blood was not fully dry either. Whoever had given the ink for the note, was in a lot of trouble.
Frank read the note aloud to the others.