After negotiating for a portion of the parties treasure (100 gp, 10-10 gp diamonds and a 50 gp gold ring) Stem watched his friends head north to the old bridge in search of the Ogre den. Being uncomfortable following a pig in the wilderness, Stem decided to ride with Miles Hammish and the Barbarian brothers Rolf and Erik to the largest city on the continent, Belmont. The wagon was packed to the gills with milled lumber, furs, several crates of colorful yarn and dried herbs.
The ride up and out of the Rasthhaven valley was uneventful until Stem spotted some figures up ahead on either side in the woods. He shouted to Miles who quickly cracked the reigns on the horse and shouted: “Hold on boys and get out your crossbows, it’s going to get rough.” Arrows and bolts were exchanged with one of the brothers getting hit in the shoulder. Stem spotted a figure on the edge of the woods barking order and proceeded to strike him three times, dropping him to the ground as the wagon sped away after trampling several of the Bandits.
By the end of the day the wagon passed the Wayside outpost and camped off the road for the night. Miles talked about their intentions to trade the goods in the wagon for gain as the new mill will be completed by fall. He asked about Stem’s business which he avoided talking about. But his goal was to visit the library in search of information about the Drow and the Magic Ring on Padraig’s finger that they found in the Goblin mines. But his interest went deeper than that as his search for knowledge and the philosophical concept of magic and the mundane was ever on his mind.
Two more nights and almost three days of travel south through rolling countryside went uneventful as they approached the coast and the Capital City of Belmont. Miles lectured Stem as they approached about their visit. They would be staying at Warehouse #7 on the docks as they have a stall there. The library is up on the hill and he pointed to the large outer wall and gate house. From there we will head to the docks, but you want to go up the hill. Pointing to a winding road meandering through the city to a second fortified wall. Inside is the library (which they could see) several temples and the King’s Castle. Make sure you go through the gate and get papers signed. If you are caught without them you may spend the rest of your life in the dungeon. Tell them you are with me and from Rasthhaven and you should not have a problem. Whatever you do, get out of the inner city before dark and make sure you are at the warehouse before the curfew of 9 bells. You can join us for dinner at Popeye’s Tavern near the warehouse if you like. We leave an hour after dawn whether you are with us or not as I have a schedule to keep.
After visiting the large warehouse Stem made his way up the hill. On his way he passed Alkadron’s Potions and decided to stop in to see what the shop had to offer. Once inside he was in a small entry way with a desk blocking entrance into a cluttered alchemical lab. It looked like every alchemical item and material components could be obtained here. Stem saw a cat on the spiral staircase (going up) to his right and a large dog snoozing right behind the desk. In addition to a forge a bearded man in his 40’s was on a stool dropping liquid into an alchemical contraption distilling the vapors into a blue-green liquid. Without taking his eye of the hourglass and his task he asked sternly what he could do for Stem. After some small talk and a scan of the room he took his leave and headed up the hill.
He went through the gate without incident and made his way to the library. It is a huge building with a gate and garden out front with massive stained glass windows on all four side of the building. Inside was a large open space with a glass ceiling, lighting it nicely. On either side a spiral staircase went up to three levels of rooms with balconies looking into the space below. In front of him was two sets of card-catalogs and a large desk with a single library. Behind him was 30 smaller desk stacked with books, paper and ink. At the moment six old men were busy at their work writing and copying books. Stem inquired at the desk and paid the 1 gp fee to conduct his research. After 20-30 minutes he found some information and went upstairs to the stacks. There were other patrons using the library but Stem stuck to his task finding a lot of information about the Drow people that once used to war with the Barbarians to the west and were allied with the Goblins to the east. At some point close to 200 years ago a civil war erupted between a group of Drow Monks following the Path of the Five Elements. In 353 ED (170 years ago) a massive earthquake rocked the continent and after that event, the Drow mysteriously vanished form the land. With the Drow gone the Goblins fell easily to the campaign of the Barbarians and were also eradicated for the continent.
Heading up to the fourth floor Stem hit paydirt. He found a large volume about artifacts from the Goblin war and there was an entire chapter about Paidraig’s magic ring. It is one of five rings in a set, the Ring’s of the Five Elements. There is a Ring of Water, Ring of Air, Ring of Space, Ring of Earth and Ring of Fire. In addition to each having a power there are additional benefits if more than one ring is attuned to one person and also, if attuned as a group with different people each wearing on of the rings. The rings were all lost in the underdark except the one taken out by a Barbarian prince after the Goblin Wars. Stem remember that Miles had said a prince was killed two weeks ago and only a ring was taken, one that was from the mines and resembled the one in Padraig’s possession.
As he poured over the book he heard singing and a little blonde girl in a white dress skipped by his stall and stopped. “Hello” she said, “what is you name?” To which Stem replied with the alias he had been using Renwick Caradoon and he had also cast Disguise Self making him look to be a human instead of an elf. The girl walked around the table introducing herself as Abigail and stating that she was here with Daddy, who was looking at some stuffy books. “What is that you are reading?” she inquired. Stem slipped a different book to the top and showed her. At the point he got woozy and realized that someone had tried to cast sleep on him, but his Elf blood prevented the enchantment from putting him to rest. He was sly and feigned sleep, resting his head on his arms. As he watched the girl pull the book about the rings away from the desk he heard two other people enter the room and snuck a peak, spying two other little girls in expensive dresses like the first that while not the same all looked similar. “Who is this.” Stem Heard, …“and why was he looking at the book.” “It does not matter as we have set this movement of artifacts in motion, let us leave” With that all three girls shimmered and became Ethereal, walking through the wall with the book and out the building. Stem raced downstairs and tried to follow but they were gone. He went back into the library and summoned his Imp familiar Leaf. With his help they conducted some additional research and surmised that the three girls may have actually been a Coven of evil Hags. He shuddered at the thought, put all of his books back and made his way back down the hill.
Making his way down the hill it was dark when he passed Alkadron’s Potion shop. Sneaking into a shadowy alley he expertly broke into a window and examined the alchemical contraptions on the table that Alkadron had been working on earlier. The dog was asleep and the cat was no-where to be seen when Stem found a ledger. The potion he was making was for a client, one of three Potions of Waterbreathing. He also noticed that Miles had purchased three scrolls of Knock and one of Dispel magic. With that he found two locked cases that seemed to be filled with potions and scrolls. Sneaking near the sleeping dog he bypassed an alarm trap and opened the first case. He identified two potions of healing and the potion of Water Breathing that was created earlier. He grabbed on Potion of Healing and left behind 5-10 gp gems in his place. Putting everything back as it was he sneaked out of the building to be ambushed by four thugs. Stem tried to hide and almost succeeded when he tried to take one of the men out, but he was tough and Stem ran. He was hit by a crossbow when six city guards cam running, witnessing the mugging. They ordered him to go home and chased after the thugs.
The rest of the evening was uneventful and in the morning Miles let Stem go back to Alkadron’s where he asked to purchase a Potion of Healing, which he paid for. As Alkadron went into the cabinet he became angry at the missing potion and grabbed the five diamonds, glaring at Stem. Thank you for your services he said, if you are ever in need of an expert like myself, just contact Mr. Miles Hammish. And with that he left, leaving Alkadron with 100 gp and two Potions of healing in hand.
The group left and in fours days returned to the Rasthhaven valley.