Prince Riffen wiped a tear from his eye and then turned around, leaning on his metal cane. Shadow walked up beside him and kept pace as they walked. Sigthyme, Juniper, Grace, and Tak all followed behind Riffen as he led them to the large meeting room they were first brought to after being released from jail.
The scents of freshly baked bread, smoked meats, and other delicious foods hit their noses before they reached the room and only increased when Riffen opened the door.
“Welcome, friends,” Riffen turned back to give the group a smile. “Feel free to sit wherever.”
The group walked into the room and saw that there were two women talking to one another as they stood at the head of the table. One they recognized as being Riffen’s cousin, Pria Selorn who was the Emissary between her home country of Soulon and Mardrec. The other they did not recognize, but Riffen quickly introduced them.
“Everyone. This is Captain Springbloom of the Soulon Army,” Riffen said.
“Hello,” Sightyme said, introducing himself as well as the rest of the group.
Captain Springbloom was a dark-haired, Human Woman wearing metal armor with a sword, sheathed on her side. Although she didn’t look that much older than Riffen or any member of the group, she stood with a rigid posture which seemed to demand respect.
“Good evening,” Captain Springbloom said, looking over the group. “Riffen has told me that you are the adventurers that saved his life and rescued him from beneath the city.”
“Yeah, that’s us,” Sigthyme said. “We’re Riffen’s travel companions.”
Captain Springbloom gave a nod.
“Good thing that you all found them before I had to march the Soulon Army down there to find him. We would have torn this city a part to find our Prince,”
“Well glad it didn’t come to that,” Pria said with a bit of a nervous laugh. “Shall we sit for the meal?”
At that suggestion, everyone took a seat around the table. Riffen sat at the head of the table with Pria and Captain Springbloom on his left side and the group of adventurers on his right. Shadow found a nice place to curl up beneath Riffen’s chair.
Everyone started to pile food on their plates and began digging into the delicious meal.
“So tell me, how did you manage to find the Prince when no one else was able to?” Captain Springbloom asked.
“I don’t think we need to get into those details over dinner,” Pria tried to interject.
“Nonsense. This act of heroism must be talked about and recounted,” Captain Springbloom said.
“I don’t know if we’d call it heroism,” Juniper said. “We were just trying to find our friend.”
“You are too modest. You there, bard. You know how to tell a good story, right? Tell me how you and your party managed to save the Prince’s life,” Captain Springbloom said, singling out Sigthyme.
Sigthyme swallowed a large bit of roast beef and then wiped his mouth.
“Of course,” Sigthyme said with a bit of a shrug. “Well it started when we met up in the town of Bishop -”
“Bishop! Oh what a quaint town,” Captain Springbloom interrupted. “You know that I once racked up quite a bar tab at the pub there… what’s the name of that place?”
“Uh…The Nick-Nack Inn,” Sigthyme said.
“That’s the one! Had the whole inn trying to outdrink me, but I managed to drink two steins for every one of theirs. I finished my drink and then I finished theirs,” Captain Springbloom said with a laugh. “Earned a whole month’s pay in a single night. Anyway, as you were saying.”
“Right. We actually met Riffen at that bar and we traveled south along the Vern Road until we got to Augendale,” Sigthyme said.
“Now that’s a town I’m very familiar with. I’ve done several tours at both the Black Gate and Gray Gate,” Captain Springbloom said, interrupting again. “We were stationed in Augendale right before we came here. If I knew you’d be traveling through there, I would have reached out to you, Prince Riffen.”
“We didn’t really stay long enough to make it worth the effort,” Prince Riffen said with a polite smile.
“Nonsense. I would have made time for you and your group. What else are we going to do at The Gray Gate? Soldiers spend more time in the bars than they do seeing any action.”
“Well I appreciate the offer,” Riffen said. “Now, Sigthyme, as you were saying.”
“Right, right,” Sightyme continued. “We made our way from Augendale to here in Xylon. We all had our own business so we parted ways and explored the town.That evening Riffen went missing and we were attacked by assassins.”
At this part in the story, Captain Springbloom got real quiet and her eyes grew large.
“Grace and I were attacked by this fire-throwing Dwarf who ended up burning down the tavern we were staying at, called the Pilgrim’s Rest. Tak and Juniper met up with Monk who attacked them in the market,” Sigthyme said.
“Quick lady,” Tak said before grabbing a large turkey leg and stuffing it into his mouth.
“Riffen was…uh…actually I don’t know if I actually know what happened to you, Riffen,” Sigthyme said. “Or at least all the details.”
“Well…” Riffen began but was quickly interrupted.
“Riffen, you don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to,” Pria said, placing a hand on his arm.
“It is fine, Pria,” Riffen said. “I want my friends to know what happened. On my way back from talking to Captain Evergreen, I was ambushed by a man who threw a sack over my head and stuck a blade in my back.”
Pria and Grace made eye contact before they both looked away.
“I was dragged through the alleyways until I ended up in Krumb’s hideout. There they talked about how they were going to smuggle me out of the city. For what purpose, I’m not exactly sure but Krumb made it clear that he knew who I was and that he was determined to get rich by selling me off. When Krumb’s assassins failed to kill my friends, he then took what was left of his gang and drugged me to the catacombs beneath the city. I tried to fight them off, but I was powerless to do so.”
Everyone at the table grew quiet except Captain Springbloom was fixated on Riffen as he recalled these memories.
“Krumb took me to some hideout beneath the city where smugglers and thieves kept stolen goods. But before he could escape with me, my friends came to my rescue,” Riffen finished and gave the party a kind smile.
“And how did you find him?” Captain Springbloom asked as she turned back to Sigthyme.
“We investigated Krumb’s hideout and Grace here found the secret door which led to the catacombs beneath Xylon. Then we…” Sigthyme trailed off as he looked over at Pria, who was looking down at her plate.
“Then we went down there and found the place Riffen mentioned. We found Krumb and his people and we fought. We were victorious, killing Krumb’s men and rescuing Riffen,” Sigthyme finished the story.
“But this Krumb. He got away, right?” Captain Springbloom asked.
“Well that is quite a tale,” Captain Springbloom said. “Got a bit of a loose end too. Something that really makes you want to hear more. Good story, Bard.”
“Uh…thanks,” Sigthyme said.
Captain Springbloom then turned toward Riffen.
“I am sorry that you were captured by this fiend. But no worry, because the Soulon Army is here now and I will pledge all my forces to protecting you and hunting down this smuggler,” Captain Springbloom said.
“I appreciate it, Captain Springbloom. However, Pria has informed me that the Xylon City Guard are currently looking for Krumb,” Riffen said.
“The same people who couldn’t find him the first time? The same people who couldn’t find you? Yeah, right. I’d have an easier time pulling a Dragon Turtle from their shell,” Captain Springbloom said. “Sometimes if you want something done, you have to do it yourself.”
“We really do appreciate your…enthusiasm with tracking down Krumb, we really do need to focus on what we are going to do with your division of the Soulon Army,” Pria said. “For now we have been given land outside of the Northern gate to station our troops, but we do not want to step on anyone’s toes.”
“With Soulon’s Army at the gates, this city is as safe as it’s ever been. They should be thanking us,” Captain Springbloom said.
Pria let out an exhausted laugh.
“Either way it should be our priority to get Prince Riffen back to Frost Haven,” Pria said. “I’ll continue to handle things here.”
“You’re right. You stick to politics and I’ll stick to protecting the Prince,” Captain Springbloom folded her arms.
“What is the plan, exactly?” Juniper asked. “When are we leaving for Frost Haven?”
“It will probably be another day or two,” Pria said. “We are still working out the details.”
“I can have the army up and ready whenever you need us to,” Captain Springbloom said.
“I am happy to hear that,” Pria said.
“Captain Springbloom, do you plan on accompanying us all the way to Frost Haven?” Riffen asked.
“Of course. My service is to you and the kingdom of Soulon. Although I’m sure these heroes here could see your safe return, I’d be remiss if I wasn’t there for every leg of your journey,” Captain Springbloom said.
“Very well,” Riffen said.
“Well I guess those matters are settled then,” Pria said as she rose from her chair. “Thank you so much, Captain, for meeting with us.”
“Of course,” Captain Springbloom said as she stood up. “Anything I can do in service of the kingdom.”
“Please send our thanks to the army as well,” Riffen said as he stood, and leaned on his metal cane.
“Of course, Sir. The army stands behind you one hundred percent. Your will is theirs,” Captain Springbloom said with a slight bow.
“Let the army know that it won’t be too much longer and I’ll send you more details in the morning,” Pria said.
Captain Springbloom turned toward Sightyme, Tak, Juniper, and Grace.
“Thank you all again and if you ever need anything from me, do not hesitate to ask,” She said.
“Thanks,” Sightyme said.
With that Captain Springbloom made her leave and Pria stood beside Riffen, noticeably exhausted.
“She is such a draining presence,” Pria muttered to herself.
“I’m just glad she’s on our side,” Riffen said with a smile.
“Right. Well Riffen, I still need to go speak to King Forgebringer’s men to work out the details about the army’s stay and departure. Are you alright, here?” Pria asked.
“Of course,” Riffen said.
“Do I need to send in the healers or are you alright?” Pria asked as she placed a hand on his arm.
“I’m fine. Really,” Riffen said. “But I do think I’m going to turn in for the night.”
“Very well,” Pria said with a nod. “I’ll inform you of the details tomorrow then.”
“Of course,” Riffen said. “Good luck.”
“Yeah thanks,” Pria let out a sigh.
She turned to look at the group. For a moment she stood there, thinking about what she wanted to say, but just shook her head before turning away and leaving the room.
“Well she seems pretty cool,” Grace said. “The Captain, not your cousin.”
“She is quite a fighter and commander, so I’ve been told,” Riffen said. “She possesses a strong loyalty to the kingdom of Soulon and to my family. For that, I am very grateful. However she does not possess the patient needed for politics and international relations.”
“I like her even more now,” Grace said with a smile.
Riffen mirrored Grace’s smile.
“Well friends, I think I’m going to go to bed. My leg is really starting to hurt,” Riffen said.
“I can give you some healing if you’d like,” Juniper said.
“No. No. It’s alright. Just some soreness,” Riffen said holding up a hand. “I’ll be better by morning. Good night.”
“Goodngiht,” The Group said as Riffen left the room, Shadow tailing behind them.
“Well that was quite a feast,” Sigthyme said.
“Good food,” Tak said, patting his stomach.
“It seems like Captain Springbloom likes us and thinks that we are heroes,” Juniper said. “We can use that if need be.”
“I was thinking the same thing. But hopefully it doesn’t come to that. We will just be on our best behavior on our journey to Frost Haven,” Sigthyme said. “I’m hoping things will calm down before then.”
“If not we could just run away and live in the woods,” Grace said as she spun a butter knife between her fingers. “Juniper would be good at that.”
“Let’s call that a Plan C or maybe D,” Juniper said.
Grace shrugged and then let out a yawn.
“Tak, sleepy,” Tak said, also letting out a yawn.
“I guess it’s bedtime for all of us,” Sigthyme said.
“Yeah, let’s head to bed,” Juniper said. “We can talk about this more in the morning.”
The group left the banquet room and traveled back to their private quarters to get a good night’s rest. All of them unsure if they were completely out of the woods yet or how their actions would be judged once they made it to Frost Haven.