He Said, She Said: Into the Smoke of Punjar…

My husband I and arrive in Punjar at the Glorious Lady Inn by the piers.   It’s owned by dwarves: Flint & Brunhilda.   They had the best reputation of all the inns in town.  The inn’s tavern is bustling with elves, humans, Halfling, sailors, dwarves.   Flint welcomes us and Andric buys us a room for the night.

We sit at a table and Brunhilda brings us bowls of dwarven goulash – the house specialty.  It’s certainly a change from elven food, but not bad.  Pretty impressive, actually.

There’s an eladrin swordmage eyeing the door.   At another table is a peculiar sight – a drow speaking to an elf.  I’ve never seen a drow before, but I’ve heard and read stories.  Drow are horrible elves with not a good bone in their body.  The sight of one makes my flesh crawl.

A city guard walks in and goes to speak to the elf and drow.  He comes over to the swordmage and asks him if he was with the group that settled “the ruckus” the night before.

I just happened to be here,” the swordmage replies.

Well,” the guard says, “I had an offer, if you were interested in making some money.

The swordmage arches an eyebrow, stands, and follows the guard to the table.

The guard offers them a job investigating a strange fog hovering over the slums.  They think it’s a magical plague from the gods to punish the beggars, or possibly the work of the Begger King.  The guards scraped together some gold to pay a group of adventurers because they’re not comfortable going into the slums.   There are lots of refugees in the area and rumor is that if you have all your teeth, they know you’re not one of them.  The group accepts the job.

I’ll look for a couple more people and come back for you in the morning,” the guard says.

Andric nudges me and leans in.  He thinks it would be wise to help out the city guards so we can try to find his family members.  We might be able to get some information about their whereabouts.  It seems like a good plan to me.  He goes over to the table and offers his sword and my… “talents”.

Talents?  My dear husband is brilliant on the battlefield but sometimes has the verbal competency of a toddler.  I walk over to clarify that he meant my magical talents as a wizard.

The guard looks pleased.  “Looks like the group of you could handle this,” he says.  He’ll be giving us some spending cash for supplies and let us know where to start on our search.  He bids us goodnight and leaves.

The drow introduces himself as Zartin.   When he extends his black hand towards me, I turn and fake a coughing fit.  I’m not going to touch a drow.

He doesn’t look surprised in the least.  “I must excuse myself to check in with my teacher,” he says. “Goodnight.

Andric explains to the others about his quest to find his family.  We speak for a short while before going to bed.

The next morning, at breakfast, there’s a figure in a green cloak drinking in the corner.   Andric is perplexed when I choose the chair furthest from the drow.  He just doesn’t understand, being a human and all.  I can’t fault him for his ignorance.  The swordmage comes in, glances over in the corner, and quietly asks the others how long the cloaked figure has been here.  “I’ve seen him in the Smoke.  I think he’s an agent of the Beggar King.  We shouldn’t linger here long.

The guard comes in and gives us gold, which Andric holds for the group.  He tells us the area where the fog is the thickest.  The drow is confused about whether we should investigate the fog or try to do something about it.  The guard prefers the latter.

Walking through town towards the slums called the Smoke, we speak with Punjar’s residents who seem convinced the fog is caused by the Beggar King.  The swordmage tells us to disguise ourselves as poor people, otherwise we would stick out in the Smoke.   We buy hand-me-down cloaks from Madame Zelda’s shop.

Hard freezing rain falls on us as we arrive at the dirty stone buildings and burned out hovels and shacks of the Smoke.  The entrance is an iron gate with leering gargoyles, secured by a devil lock.  Sewage is leaking down the street and flowing around our shoes.  So disgusting that people live this way.  Disgusting and sad.

The drow lifts my hubby up on to the roof of the nearby building, where he ties a rope to something sturdy. I climb up, slipping the first time.  The second time I get all the way up on to the roof, which overlooks an alley.

Of course, we’re not alone.  There are five unhappy men with weapons drawn and a net prepared to catch us.  The drow shouts at them, “Flee or die!” and one of the net men jumps off the roof.   Andric runs up to them, slips, and nearly falls off the roof.  I cast my icy terrain and watch the men scramble to stay upright.

Just then, an odd calm comes over the area.   The rain stops, and a bright white light comes over us. Everyone stops fighting to look up into the gaping white maw in the sky.  Tendrils shoot out of the light and grab all of us and I black out…

Coming soon… Andric’s side of the story as told by Hybban.

About e

Since 2008, E. Foley of Geek’s Dream Girl has been helping geeks from around the world find love. She writes amazing online dating profiles for her fellow geeks and guides them through the perilous waters of the dating scene and out the other side. She's totally proud to report that she's even caused a couple geek weddings! She lives in Maryland with DaveTheGame, her adorable cats, Mr. Peanut & Don Juan, and Titania, Queen of the Cocker Spaniels. (Email e, or follow @geeksdreamgirl on Twitter.)

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