From the Campaign Journal of Niowin the Seer:
Per the instructions of my mentors, I am keeping this journal and am obligated to myself and my posterity to record things as accurately as possible. As such I will continue to edit this document as time goes on for surely things will be made more apparent as time passes.
My first recollections of the events I’ll try to record were those of the following morning. In Elven communities, one can imbibe alcoholic beverages and knowing that they are pure and of uniform alcoholic content one may consume freely and without repercussions. It seems that those standards are not adhered to in Human communities. The wildly varying quality and potency of Human drink, plus what I can only imaging to be the undocumented addition of various psychoactive elements to the beverages makes a relaxing evening of ‘having it out’ really quite impossible. So, enough commentary. The journal:
Oh, by the gods of Heaven and Earth, I’m blind! No, wait… That just the Sun, streaming in on me. Wow! My head hurts! My eyes hurt! Well, everything hurts, no sense listing each body part. Plus I’m parched! Thankfully the inn staff left a pitcher of drinking water for me. Ah, that is good. Clear and clean, perhaps I’ll have more. Even better. I’ll just finish the pitcher. Ah. Lovel-uuurgh! Mwoof! Ghuh, ghuh, ghuh… Mwerf! By the gods-erfgh! Mwooooof! Ghuh, ghuh, ghuh! Can I stop barfing now? There’s nothing lef-ergh! Mwoof! (Oh, how wrong I was. There was plenty left. After a bit, though, there was really really nothing left. Then I spent a rewarding 30 minutes attempting to throw up really nothing interspersed with (what I later found out was) the Goblin phrase for “I’ve been poisoned,” which is, “Ghuh, ghuh, ghuh!” (Goblin is a remarkably compact and tidy language once you begin to learn it.)
After evacuating my digestive tract from the bowels upward, I lay back in bed, thinking to perhaps catch a bit more sleep (even though I was sure I’d already slept for my straight 8). The Sun, though, had moved in the sky and its glorious golden light lay directly across my head. Sitting up and attempting to jerk the curtains shut, I ended up pulling them off the wall entirely, flooding the room with light and signaling the end of my rest period. Washing up would have been tricky (having emptied the pitcher of clean water and having filled the basin with other fluids) so I prestidigitated myself into a presentable state and headed downstairs for a meal I will dub, henceforth, brunch, it being neither breakfast nor lunch but something between and a combination of the two.
The innkeeper, having tracked my activity last night via my bar tab, and seeing me clutching shakily at the banister as I descended the stairs, waived me to a table and was soon at my side with a tray. From the tray, he set in front of me, two drinks. “This, good sir, is my family’s cure for that which ails you. My father was an innkeeper as am I and as was his father before and his father before stretching back five whole generations. (He made it sound like some kind of epic of innkeepership, but a bit of quick math put the founding of this innkeeping dynasty somewhere around the time that my uncle Riordan was adventuring. I’ll have to ask him about this place and see what it was like when new. As I was woolgathering, my host had continued talking.) “…and so, my ancestor learnt the recipe for this this curative from a traveling Elf who was steeped in the arcane arts. An alchemist of no small repute. And the secret of it has been passed down through the generations.” And saying that, he gestured at the shot glass full of bright green, clear, even sparkling liquid.
“And the other?” I asked, pointing at the mug.
“Ah hah. That, sir, is for those who mistrust and fear anything with a hint of magic to it. It is a local concoction that uses weak ale as its base, adding in beef broth and a thickened tomato juice and…” followed by a list of peppers, some mild, some so potent that one should not handle them (though ingesting is possible?) “…salt, horseradish, garlic, fish sauce, one raw chicken egg, and, luckily for you, celery when in season.” And, both proudly and defiantly, a disreputable stalk of celery was sticking out the top of the mug.
“A raw egg?” I asked. “Aye, it’s in there,” he responded. Thinking for a second or two, I decided to fully embrace this experience. “I will defer to you, sir. Which do you recommend?” I asked. “For you, I would suggest both. Start with the green one. All in one gulp, just like last night.”
I swept up the shot and knocked it back. It gave the not unpleasant taste of wintergreen with a hint of herbs, maybe basil and certainly anise. My head was immediately pain-free and clear but whatever was in that drink restarted my stomach’s rebellion with a vengeance. I bolted from the table and felt a cold sweat rise on my skin as I rushed to the door. Arriving at the portal, though, my stomach had calmed itself again. Not totally back to normal but anything short of actual heaving was a blessing and a relief. Returning to the table, the innkeeper pointed at the mug and suggested drinking that quickly but not all at once like the other curative. Following his advice, I drank it in several gulps and, with exception of the sensation of the egg running into my mouth (yes, it was really in there), things went smoothly. I was savoring the satisfying burn from the peppers when my host suggested that I enjoy my celery while he got my meal together. I almost told him that there was no way I could eat when I realized that I was, in fact, quite hungry.
He returned a few minutes later with leftovers from last night and today’s breakfast plus fresh bread and a pitcher of ale. I enjoyed cold fried chicken, deviled eggs, pickled eggs, some herring (both fresh and pickled), fried ham, pancakes, potato salad, leftover collard greens, the rest of last night’s cheese bread, braised mutton, a tomato and herb omelet, pimento cheese spread on toast, creamed chipped beef (again on toast), some roasted beef, fruit salad, sausages, sausage gravy (on more toast), a large slice of apple pie with cheddar cheese, a bit more of the fried chicken, a half pint of honey that I spread with butter on the loaf of fresh bread, and finally some oat porridge with the other half pint of honey, nuts and berries to tamp it all down.
As I ate, I engaged my host in conversation, complimenting him on his “hangover” (his term, but an apt one) cures and asking him about last night. The inn was kind of idling along and he seemed willing to drink the ale I offered him and sit. I think he was impressed with my gustatory endurance, saying that we Elves may be out-drank handily but could hold our own with anyone once the eating started.
“Oh yes, sir. Who did you speak to last night? Why nearly everyone. You talked sheep with shepherds and brewing with brewers (Though the conversation with the shepherds tended to concern stealing sheep and how one combats it. The conversation with brewers tended to wander into the subject of ‘potions’ but I told them that is the Elven word for ‘whiskey’ and they thought nothing more of it.) and whatever else anyone wanted to discuss,” my host informed me. “Then you spent some time talking to this one fellow. Odd, in that he’s a known elf-hater. Well, maybe not ‘hater’ but certainly he’s got some bee in his bonnet concerning elves and how elves and humans get along. Odd fellow. Never offers his name and for some reason I don’t bother to ask. I guess I just don’t care for bigots.”
“But I left the inn, right..?” I asked, drawing forth some vague recollection of the evening’s events.
“Oh aye, you did,” answered the innkeeper, “Your friends discovered that poor merchant, Leo, dead in his room. The wee one come to get you and hustled you upstairs. We found out later that you all were investigating his death (as responsible adventurers are known to do) and kept things quiet until the evening’s business was mostly done.”
At this point, memory came back to me. The material (poison, I suspect) in Leo’s mouth. Searching and finding nothing in his room. We found tracks leading to his window, but not away, so we backtracked, hoping to learn where the intruder (if not killer) came from. Not having much luck with that. Having the guard confront us and being all angry. Being sent to talk to an alchemist in town. Showing her the material from Leo’s mouth. We got a lot of mixed signals from her.
“Wasn’t there something about a goblin? That can’t be right, can it..?” I asked.
“Oh, aye. It’s a funny story. You lady elf friend, Lia(?), doesn’t care for the indoors so much, so she was outside in the woods and happened along a Goblin.”
His mention of Lia helped the memory of the story she told me to return. She found a goblin, skulking along outside town. She decided to follow in bird form but something tipped the goblin off, so she returned to Elf for and confronted him. The fought until he surrendered. We then, during our backtracking process happened upon them. As it turned out, the goblin was scouting for an army. Nestor tried to scare the goblin by telling him that elves ate goblin (disgusting and easily provably false) to what end I’m unsure. I finally told the gob I wasn’t interested in having him for dinner but that if he comes back he’ll likely get killed (then used a fertilizer, probably, instead of as food) and we let him go because nobody had the heart to kill him (I really wish at this point, everyone had been drinking like me and we could blame that whole exchange/decision making process on the drink but that’s not the case. I have no idea why we let that goblin go.)
So we let the goblin go, talked to the authorities, talked to the alchemist, came back to the inn for more drinks and then off to bed.
“Oh aye, I had left by then but the staff say you were in high spirits. You taught everyone in the bar a game called ‘The Floor Is Lava’ and then offered to mend the smashed furniture. It’s waiting out back but I don’t have high hopes. Thankfully you promised to pay for everything you couldn’t fix. Then we ran out of ale so you all continued drinking whiskey and brandy. You complained about the cups we server strong drink in, saying that you ‘have been drinking from frothy mugs all night’ and that ‘you expected to continue’ to do so. After 4 or 5 mugs of whiskey you seemed ready for bed, so we made sure you got safely there. You slept and now here we are,” finished the innkeeper.
Notes to self:
1. Human drink is actually a slow poison. Avoid it in massive quantities.
2. If a human recommends a smaller drinking vessel, go ahead and go with that.
3. Brunch is brilliant.
4. Beg, steal or borrow the recipes for both hangover cures.
5. Follow up on the stuff in Leo’s mouth.
6. Don’t leave town without a tent. It’s getting cold.
7. Track down the odd, elf-disliker I talked to. He may be connected to Leo’s death.