Part 1: A Left at the Burnt Inn
When we last left our heroes, they had just escaped the execution grounds, and were making their way back to the city of McCloud to confront the two-timing Captain of the Guard, Garreth Peck. After spending some time debating how best to conceal the two unconscious bodies in the back of Cedric’s cart, the crew made their way towards the Green Buck Tavern.
The first step involved getting past the city gates. In this nerve-wracking time, the town guard were suspicious of a large, tarpaulin covered cart moving into the city. Brennus attempted to suggest that it was relief provided by his monastic order for the coming war. The guards became increasingly suspicious until Garion and Garrett were able to talk them into believing that any supplies would be useful during a siege.
Once in town, the crew traveled to the Green Buck Inn, a small hole in the wall on the less attractive side of town. Spotting a locked door into the beer cellar, they bashed their way in after some discussion about whether or not Brennus’s impression of a raving prophet would draw peoples’ attention from the breaking and entering act. Inside, the group managed to smash a cask of ale, and (unrelated to the ale cask smashing) managed to find a detailed ledger the tavern kept on meat-running.
In their excitement, however, they were confronted by a rather confused tiger, who wanted to know why this roughshod group of critters were rampaging about in the basement of his inn. In a fit of passion, Briar began to accuse him of being a purveyor of trafficked meat, to which the tiger simply played dumb and began to ask our heroes to leave. Garion decided to use his “mind-tentacles” to reach into and violate the mind of the poor tiger. Upon gazing into his subconscious, it became apparent that the tiger was hiding something, almost obviously in regards to meat-trafficking. With this revelation, and a forceful prod in the back from Garion, Garrett stepped forward and played off their stumble into the basement as if it were all just a joke that their “good friend Garreth Peck” orchestrated. The innkeep breathed a sigh of relief and changed his tune.
Ushering the whole group up to the bar, he offered them a round of drinks. Already having been poisoned once before, Garrett inspected his whiskey closely… by downing the swill in one shot. Subsequently, he was convinced that the whiskey was poisoned, and began to feel horribly unwell… until Brennus pointed out… it was only rot-gut he was served, nothing more. Garrett began to hyperventilate, quite sure Brennus’s water was also poisoned, as Briar tapped a cask of wine to nurse through the night. Menus were provided, and the innkeeper provided plenty of information, from the going-rate of meat-slaves, to the current political situation, to what it meant if the impending army took McCloud. Most important, our heroes realized that Garreth Peck was on his way, and after a hearty meal (for Garrett and Garion, who ordered the venison, everyone else had porridge off the “vegetarian” menu), they awaited his, and the meat-slave David’s, arrival.
Scene 2: I’ll Have What He’s Having
Garreth Peck and his adorable rabbit entourage made a quiet entrance into the tavern, and it was clear they were regulars here given how hushed the atmosphere in the tavern was upon their entrance. The tavernkeep motioned to the party, but Garreth didn’t get a good enough look at the group to pick out any particular member. The group decided to make some preparations for their heist. Garion took the moment to chat up the bartender, a handsome badger, and get a quick peek into the kitchen, where the chef was already working on preparing David the rabbit for his place at the head of the table. Not only gathering valuable information about the layout of the tavern, he also gathered that there were at least five slaves hidden behind a false wall in the kitchen.
Meanwhile, Garrett managed to get himself into deep trouble. Taking the opportunity to poison one of his arrows, he snuck off to the bathroom and locked the door, only to let his hand slip when a poodle banged impatiently on the door, dosing himself with his most deadly poison. The deer frantically searched for the antidote as his vision blurred and breathing became labored… barely managing to find the bottle, and stuff a dose down his throat, before falling unconscious in the locked bathroom.
After a few minutes’ time, and hearing a strange pounding coming from upstairs, Brennus went to investigate. He found a poodle needing the restroom badly. Getting no response from inside the stall, the goat gave a solid headbutt to the door and found the poor deer slumped over at the foot of the toilet. Some emergency first aid, and Garrett was sputtering back to life, albeit looking far worse for the wear.
The group gathered once again, and was able to formulate a final plan… when Garion got just a little distracted by the attractive badger behind the bar… which meant that creative changes to the plan needed to happen.
Part 3: “Can’t We Just Talk About This?”
Briar set the plan into motion by getting Cedric properly tushed up, carefully brushed, and thoroughly restrained. Bit in mouth, the horse was trotted up to the innkeeper, who purchased him for a paltry 115 gold, after much haggling. This allowed Garrett and Briar a chance to enter the kitchen unmolested, while Brennus kept the entry to the kitchen covered. Inside, they were introduced to the chef, a burly, cycloptic, mute otter named “Quiet Joe,” who wore naught but a leather apron. Garrett managed to quickly talk the chef down into the basement, under the pretenses of finding some fresh tarragon for the terrified rabbit-roast, David. This left Briar alone with the innkeeper and several sharp implements.
Briar asked the innkeeper if he could take a moment to thank poor Cedric for his service, before he took a deep sleep in a very hot place. The innkeeper thought it fishy, but allowed it, and turned his back long enough for Brair to undo the horse’s bonds. The executioner stallion then grabbed a knife off the table, and attempted to gut the tavernkeeper from behind, whilst clasping his mouth shut with a gloved hand. Instead, the tavernkeeper managed to scream out for his brother, Garreth, before taking a deep wound to the side of his stomach. In the basement, Garrett quickly bribed the chef his pick of the meat-slave litter if he wouldn’t interfere. Thinking better than to stop an orchestrated heist, the chef set his knife away and instead asked if he could hitch-hike awhile with the crew before parting ways. Garrett agreed, and raced back up into the kitchen to help Briar.
Out on the tavern floor, everyone could hear the mistake Briar made. A loud scream, followed by “Garreth!” came from the kitchen, and the guard captain was nearly there to make an entrance, when he was met by a stocky goat with a ream of pamphlets. Brennus calmly began to proselytize about the sin and debauchery in this horrid place, and how it needed to be cleansed with prayer. Garreth became increasingly more perturbed at the monk’s antics, until he attempted to push his way past. The goat shouted out that a man of the cloth was being defiled, but the call fell upon deaf ears, and in a last minute fit of effort, Garreth muscled his body weight and tipped Brennus onto his back, before pushing on into the kitchen The sight he came across was not one for the feint of heart.
Down in the kitchen, Briar made short work of the tavernkeeper, cleaving his head nigh in half, gashing his shoulder open, and nearly repainting the walls a brilliant red. While he put up a good fight with a kitchen knife and carving fork, he was not nearly the threat that Garreth was, who stumbled into the room to see his brother turned into a new tiger-skin rug upon the floor. Whilst this was happening, Garrett managed to get David un-gagged, so he could explain how to open the false wall, and tasked the un-bound Cedric to do so. As the tiger burst into the room, the deer readied his bow and took a pot shot at the clear target, just before Briar rushed past to liberally apply his axe to the guard captain’s face.
Brennus, standing once again, drew his weapon, and readied to wade into combat when the captain wheeled ‘round and slashed a gaping wound across his chest. The goat was taken unaware, and suddenly found the rush of pain to be too much, feinting at the foot of the stairs. Panicking, whilst searching the innkeeper’s corpse, Garrett yelled out for Cedric to back up Briar; their combined slashing and shin-kicking enough to distract the captain from making any further attacks on Brennus. Garrett managed to grab the key to the cages, and began unleashing naked meat-slaves two at a time from the rear of the kitchen, ordering them to go into the basement and wait.
By this point, Kai, who had been wandering the streets to survey the area, came back around, just in time to join the fray, racking a bolt into his pistol crossbow and narrowly missing the Captain. Garion arrived shortly afterwards from his moment of debauched glee, in time to see Brair cut down the guard captain, and finish him with a flourish fit for a corrupt guardsman.
By now, the tavern had emptied out, its patrons had finished their meals to dispose of the evidence, but nobody seemed particularly eager to call the guards in, given the illegal nature of the bar. This allowed the party time to re-group, form a few plans, and figure their way out from here. Between Kai and Garion, they were able to draw up some quick, but convincing, work papers and orders for the slaves, who were set to the task of loading the tavern’s casks of wine and ale into the cart. It would seem only the Civil War brewing outside the gates, and the town guard, would stand in the way of freedom and profit.
Exuent Tavern, End Chapter 2