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One of the brutes at the dice table looks up as Blake approaches. By the expression on his face, he looks disappointed. "Aww, I thought they was gonna rough you up good." He absently scratches his groin through his patchy, flea-bitten hooded tunic. His coarse beard is equally scraggly as his clothes, and his dark eyes are slightly bloodshot from the drink he's consumed this evening. He stares at Blake over his bulbous nose.
The brute shrugs and returns to his game. The others in the room are less hostile, but more guarded in their speech and choose not to divulge anything. Several of them appear particularly nervous by the thought of discussing the fate of those who had botched a mission.
After a few minutes, one of the big toughs comes over and pokes Blake on the shoulder roughly. He makes a curt gesture towards the back room, ushering the lone man into the chamber where sit seven others: a mail-clad warrior, two red-headed adherents of the Water goddess (one man and one woman, each wearing the teardrop-shaped holy symbol), a stone-faced man in leather, a rotund young man with a clay jug sitting on the table in front of him, and a robed man and a leather-clad elvish woman sitting across from each others. With these seven, at the end of the table, is the halfling. He motions for Blake to sit at the last remaining chair, while the brute closes the door to the cork-muffled room. The halfling says nothing, and the room is silent, until the door opens and another familiar figure--the mysterious dark-robed man from the fishmonger's warehouse--glides in on silent steps. He stands net to the halfling and begins as always without preamble.
"Most of you know each other from the past month, having assisted us in the exploration of a certain mine in western Merui. You have proven that the site is of value to our operations... provided certain irritations are eliminated." He looks around the table. "Chief among these threats are the resident drakon and this... freelance necromancer operating in the area. Each of you has certain talents that will be of use... but not all together," he adds dryly.
"Sikhandyn: Your magics will be of greatest use in tracking the rogue wizard. Methuselah will accompany you to Stony Ford, where you will join up with another operative who has more information on the supposed necromancer." There might be a smile from under the robe, but it is hard to tell. "She'll be expecting you."
"As for the rest of you, you have the more exciting task of driving out the drakon from our mine. The quartermaster will be able to better provision you for this task thanks to the excellent information provided by your first expedition." Again, there is a pause that might be a facial expression. "Success, of course, is met with greater challenges, but I trust you to overcome. And to assist you, we have brought in some additional firepower. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Blake." He gestures to the latecomer, his hand hidden within the folds of his charcoal-colored robe.
"You have three days to prepare. Return here, and your supplies will be waiting below." The hood shifts as he glances about the room. "Any questions?"
A mix of emotions pass across Layna's face as she listens to the assignment, at first relief, then a touch of sadness and then finally bewilderment.
"'Driving out' the drakon?" Layna asks, incredulously. "Quite honestly, I'm not certain he will be able to walk out after several months of a regular diet of goblins, goats, ... and scouts," she says. "And even if we could get him out of the caves, he could easily return."
Blake is a peasant. He's none too clean, but he's a little scrawny to a farmer and not smelly enough to be a stable hand. He carries no tools or weapons. His brown hair and blue eyes are unremarkable. He nods a greeting as he looks around. In some other setting he might have smiled.
As he sits he scratches his forearm with the stubble on his chin. Then he puts his arms on the table and laces his fingers. He looks more prepared to answer questions than ask them.
Karn is a portly young man with bowl cut straight black hair. You think of him as fat, and he is, but when you see him move you can tell understand that under the fat is muscle. He moves with a grace and speed that is surprising for of his size. He wears no armor, just standard, loose clothing and carries no obvious weapons. He is carrying a large clay jug.
While he is making his way to the table, he calls out to the innkeeper to fill the jug with wine.
As Karn sits he waves to the others he knows at the table, "Well, looks like we got a new job."
Seeing Blake, he leans over the table and offer his hand, "You must be our new colleague. I'm Karn. Welcome to the team."
He hits his chest with his fist, "I fight."
Clenching his fists he holds them up, "With these"
Then he laughs and pats his round belly, "I also like to eat and drink as you can tell."