Suspicious Job Offer

Mistress of Time, Episode 4

*Note this episode is from a Warrior Heroes Adventures in Talomir (WHAT) Job Offer encounter. The Job Offer encounter is often used to transition the RPG adventuring party from one adventure or encounter to another. It is often used in conjunction with a Carousing encounter. When playing solo, WHAT has tables to help determine who makes the job offer and what encounters make up the job.

The curtains were drawn back allowing light from a rising sun fill the room. Someone was moving about in the room. Zhu Paand moaned.

“Good morning, mistress” said a cheerful Meagle as she tidied the room. Zhu rolled away from the window and buried her throbbing head under a pillow – she had drunk too much the night before and was paying the consequence. She heard a ceramic thud as Meagle placed the chamber pot beside the bed. Zhu now had to decide if she should throw up or make water, her body was telling her to do both. She struggled to sit up. She watched Meagle pick up her nightgown off of the floor and begin folding it. Zhu then realized she had gone to bed naked and was now sitting naked in front of a goblin she had just met. She placed a hand on her throbbing head.

Meagle asked “Are you ill, mistress? If you have drinking sickness, the cook makes a tonic she calls a ‘Bloody Mary’.”

“Drinking sickness? Where I come from it’s called a hangover, but I guess it does make you feel a little sick.” Zhu responded as she slid out of bed and hovered over the chamber pot. After making water, she stumbled to the chair at the dressing table. Meagle was already making the bed.

“Breakfast is being served. Will you be eating in the common room or should I bring you a tray?” asked Meagle.

“Meagle, what are you doing?” Zhu asked.

Fluffing a pillow, Meagle said “Making the bed, mistress, what do you mean?”

“All of this tidying, being attentive to me and calling me ‘mistress’ with every sentence, I want to know why you are doing these things.” said Zhu.

Meagle’s expression went from one of puzzlement to dejection. She lowered her head. “I’m a maid, mistress, it’s what I do. I’m sorry if it displeases you, I know I am just a scullery maid and not a proper lady’s maid.”

“Don’t be sad.” said Zhu. “I’m not displeased. I just wanted to know why you are doing these things. And while we are on the subject of propriety, I’m hardly a ‘proper’ lady.”

Meagle looked up and gave a weak smile. “Thank you, mistress, now about breakfast?”

“I’ll eat in the common room, like the common lady I am.” said Zhu.

“Oh no, you mustn’t say that, mistress. You are not common at all, I’ve never seen anyone generate such excitement among goblin girls, I just want to share in this, even if only a little.” said Meagle.

Zhu laughed, “You are a strange one, Meagle.”

Meagle asked “Will you require assistance in dressing, mistress? If not, I need to get downstairs, the pots and pans are piling up and I am the scullery maid.”

Realizing she was still naked, Zhu said “I can dress myself, now hurry off before you get into trouble.”

Meagle curtsied, picked up the chamber pot and left the room at a brisk pace.

After breakfast, Zhu made arrangements with Bret Algen to have a bath brought to her room and then she sought out Edith Algen finding her in a small office behind the bar.

“Mistress Algen, could I have a few words with you?” Zhu asked.

“Of course, dear, but I do wish you would call me Edith.” replied Edith Algen.

“Edith, I’d like to talk to you about Meagle.” said Zhu.

“Oh? Well, I can tell you how she’s been going on and on about getting to sleep in a real bed.” she said.

Zhu’s cheeks flushed. “I’m afraid I drank too much and don’t remember much of what happened.”

Edith laughed, “Relax, Meagle said the bed got toasty warm and you snore, that’s all.”

Zhu blushed again and quickly composed herself. “What can you tell me about Meagle, where she came from and what kind of person she is.”

“I don’t know much about her past. Apparently, her first experiences in Clerseau were not pleasant, they usually aren’t for nonhumans. She saw the goblin on my sign and begged my son for a job. We hired her as a scullery maid for room and board and an occasional copper piece. I don’t know what happened to her but, she has never stepped outside of the tavern in the three years she’s been here.”

“So she’s not a servant, a slave? Is she a fast learner?”

“No she isn’t a slave to anything but her pots and pans. I don’t know if she is a fast learner, but she’s not a slow learner. She learns just as fast as anyone else I’ve hired. She learned to read and write within the first year, mostly on her own. Why do you ask, Zhu Paand?”

Zhu took a deep breath, “If it is acceptable to you, I would like to hire Meagle to be a part of my band.”

“Meagle is no warrior.”

“I’m interested in her as an attendant and she can be trained as a bodyguard.”

“Since you’ve hired a retinue of goblins, something has awoken in Meagle, perhaps a longing for adventure. You should hire Meagle. Besides, we can’t be scullery maids our entire lives.”

“I began as a scullery maid, a slave as well.” said Zhu.

Edith laughed “It’s a small world, I also started as a scullery maid, but not a slave. I’ll let Meagle know she has a new employer – after she’s finished the dishes!”

When Zhu Paand returned to her room, Bret was pouring the last bucket of hot water into a bathtub. “I’ve arrived at the right time.” she said.

“Yes, Mistress Paand, but be careful, the water is very hot.” said Bret.

As he turned to leave, Zhu asked “Bret, you’re Half-Orc and I’m Half-Elf, I was wondering what your life has been like so far?”

“I won’t lie, there are times when it is tough, mostly when dealing with strangers. Otherwise, things are pretty normal. I guess I can thank my mother for that.” he said.

“I was orphaned and my mother’s family turned me out into the streets. I became a slave to survive. My early life was so miserable, I was so hated by humans and elves alike – there were times when I hated what I am.” said Zhu.

“Life’s too short to hate who you are, mother taught me that and it’s true. Enjoy your bath, mistress.” he said leaving the room.

Zhu pondered what he said and wondered how her life might have been different had her mother lived. It was her dream, her goal to find a way back into time and save her mother. But before she could do that, she had to deal with the present. And her present funds indicated she had to do something quickly to obtain the tome locked away in Istrea Zosix’s keep. A good hot bath would be the perfect place to think about such things.

She was still in the tub when there was a knock at her door. “Come in.” she said. It was Meagle.

“Mistress, Mistress Edith said I was no longer a scullery maid and I was to see you.” she said. Meagle seemed troubled.

Zhu grabbed a towel and stood up in the tub. Stepping out of the tub she said “That is correct Meagle, I spoke with Mistress Algen and we agreed you’ve been a scullery maid long enough, time for a change. I would like you to become my attendant – that means you will not only be my maid, but my bodyguard as well. Where I go, you will go. You’ll get paid the same share as everyone else. Does that interest you?”

Meagle’s eyes grew big, she brought her hands in front of her mouth to hide an even bigger smile. “Mistress, I’m so excited, of course I’ll be your maid. I’m yours, tell me anything and I will do it.” she said.

“Remember, you’ll be more than a maid, you have to be someone we can count on.” said Zhu. “And as far as first commands, your first job is to take a bath – a lady’s maid shouldn’t smell of kitchen grease.”

Zhu was sitting at the dressing table brushing her hair and Meagle was finishing her bath, when there was another knock at the door. “Come in.” she said.

Fizzrelda came in carrying a small tray of apples and cheese. She stopped in her tracks and watched as Meagle cleaned between her toes. “Meagle?”

“Hi, Fizzrelda, I’m taking a bath. Do you want to be next?” asked Meagle.

“Fizzrelda,” interrupted Zhu Paand, “what do you have for us?”

“Mistress Algen prepared some fruit and cheese for a midday snack, I brought you a tray. I’ve got everyone settled in and checked everyone’s gear. We put together a list of a few things we need.” said Fizzrelda putting the tray on the dressing table and handing Zhu Paand the list.

Zhu studied the list while nibbling on a piece of cheese. “That’s a lot of gear we’ll have to carry into Goranth.” she said.

“Yeah, too bad there’s not a town or trading post nearer to the border. We should consider a pack animal.” said Fizzrelda.

“Hmm, I’m afraid a pack mule and some of this gear is outside of our budget.” said Zhu Paand. “By the way, don’t think I wasn’t wise to your scheme.”

“Scheme, mistress? What scheme?” asked Fizzrelda.

“You know very well, you were going to let Meagle do you maid duties, stringing her along until we left the tavern.” said Zhu.

“Mistress, could I help it if she wanted to be a part – even if she didn’t get paid?” Fizzrelda implored.

“Well, your plan has backfired. She’s a far better maid than you’ll ever be and she will take over those duties. BUT, and this is important – you have to train her to fight. She comes with us and she has to be able to pull her own weight. You’re my bondswoman, I’m trusting you to do this for us all.”

“Certainly, mistress, we’ll start with the ax, she can learn to cut wood and cleave skulls at the same time.”

By this time Meagle was out of the tub and beginning to dress. “Hurry up and get your shoes on, Meagle, you start training this afternoon.” said Fizzrelda.

“Shoes? I don’t have any shoes.” said Meagle.

It was the first time Zhu realized the dress Meagle was wearing was little more than a rag. She picked a few silver pieces out of her purse and handed them to Fizzrelda. “Do you remember meeting the tailor, Shibosh Wegrang, last night?”

“Yes, mistress.” Fizzrelda replied.

“Take Meagle to his shop and see if his wife, the dressmaker will make some traveling clothes, complete with shoes or sandals.” said Zhu Paand.

“Come with me, Meagle, let’s find the tailor’s shop.” said Fizzrelda taking Meagle by the hand.

“One last thing, Fizzrelda.”

“Yes, mistress?”

“I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘stinking goblins’? It’s Saturday, take this additional coin, everyone needs a bath before dinner. No one will accuse us of stinking.”

Fizzrelda laughed. “Thank you, mistress, a nice bath will be good for morale!”

They arrived for dinner in the common room early enough to push two tables together so they could all sit together. Zhu Paand sat at the head of the table surrounded by six goblins. Dinner consisted of bread, roast pork, braised vegetables, fried onions (Zhu insisted there be fried onions), and copious amounts of ale.

Meagle looked at the food on her plate with disbelief and poked at it to assure herself it was real.

“Eat up, little maid,” crowed Joonda, “you won’t be eating scraps tonight!”

“Yes, the time for eating scraps is for when you’re on the run from a losing battle.” said Umsa.

Gredra belched and said “Bah! you eat scraps even after a victory if you serve an Orc warlord.” The table laughed. The banter and chatter pleased Zhu, it seemed her band was coming together.

“Tell me, Joonda, this gunpowder and handguns, how do they work?” inquired Zhu.

“As you probably know, mistress, gunpowder is inert, perfectly safe until touched by flame, even a tiny spark of flame will ignite the powder into a fast burning fire. If you’ve ever sat in front of a fireplace feeling the expanding warmth and watching ash rise into the chimney, imagine that working much faster. By harnessing the speed of the expanding fire in a metal tube, you can propel a bullet faster than any sling, faster than any arrow from a bow.”

“But, gunpowder makes noise. It’s no good when stealth is needed. For that, you need a bow.” said Umsa.

“Aye, but even a bow is useless unless you’re a master archer and hit the target in exactly the right spot, otherwise he’ll scream like a stuck pig. There’s only one way to kill silently, and that’s with a hand over the mouth and a knife.” said Yoko.

“Preferably a knife stroke across the throat.” said Gredra punctuating her remark with a small burp.

The discussion turned into a debate on the best way to silence an enemy, slitting the throat or a knife in the back under the ribs thrust upwards. One thing was clear to Zhu Paand, goblins didn’t fight fair. A serving maid tapped Zhu on the shoulder and leaned in between Zhu and Fizzrelda.

“Excuse me, mistress, Master Goddur would like you to come to his table.” she said. Zhu looked across the room and saw that Goddur and Shobish Wegrang were sitting in the shadows at the same table as last night. “He said he has a matter he wishes to discuss with you.” continued the serving maid.

“Thank you.” said Zhu. She looked at Fizzrelda. “Did you hear that?”

“I did, mistress, I don’t know how well you see in low light, but his face says he’s up to something.” said Fizzrelda.

“I guess I’ll go see what he wants.” said Zhu.

“Want me to come with you?” Fizzrelda asked.

lZhu answered, “No, Stay here and keep watch in case something happens.” She stood up and left the table. Meagle also stood up.

“Meagle, sit down.” said Fizzrelda. “Stay here and stay alert.” As Meagle sat, Fizzrelda noticed an uneasy pause around the table. “Everyone, act normal, but stay alert.”

“Ah, Mistress Paand, please sit down, enjoying dinner with your band of cutthroats?” asked Boris Goddur.

Shobish Wegrang leapt up and pulled out the chair for Zhu. “Thank you, Shobish.” she said as she sat. She waited for him to return to his seat before addressing Boris Goddur. “I am enjoying dinner and it is quite a coincidence, we were just discussing throat cutting and how it should be done.”

Shobish laughed, but Boris Goddur did not seem amused. “I have something that may be of interest to you. I’ve received a letter from an alchemist in Orlogne, it seems he’s discovered a new method of distillation, which supposedly yields purer extracts. I thought it might interest you.”

“As I told you last night, I do not focus much on alchemy and the potions I use are quite easy to concoct.” she said. “By the way, Master Wegrang, please thank your wife for the traveling clothes she made for Meagle, they’ll certainly wear well.”

“I will let her know, my lady. It was a first for us to have goblins in our shop. They were an unexpected pleasure.” said Shibosh Wegrang.

Asserting control, Boris Goddur said, “Well, I’ve decided I should go and investigate this man’s discovery, and I was thinking of hiring you and your band to escort me to Orlogne.”

“Hiring us, a band of ‘cutthroats’, to escort you to Orlogne? Why?” she asked.

“Two reasons, young lady. One is I would enjoy your company and two, I want to show you what a mistake you’ve made in hiring goblins.”

“Where is Orlogne?” she asked.

“It’s a town in Donnerwald not far from the capital, Acromeriath.” injected Shobish.

“Donnerwald? That’s an odd name for a duchy.” Zhu commented.

Shobish’s eyes brightened as he saw a way to brighten the mood. “It’s a very old name from Treyine, the first duke was from there and it was his name.”

“Do I understand that you wish to hire me, just to watch me fail?” Zhu asked.

Boris Goddur chuckled, “I’ll bring some of my own guards as backup, in case your goblins cut and run. Think of it as a challenge.”

“You can’t be serious?”

“I’ll pay twenty gold pieces for the job and advance you five gold pieces now.” he said placing a purse on the table.

Zhu looked Boris Goddur in the eye, “surely he must be mad or up to something” she thought. Then she looked at the money on the table. Twenty gold pieces would go a long way toward a successful raid on Istrea Zosix. “Deal.” she said picking up the purse. “When do we start?”

“Tomorrow morning at first light.” said Boris.

“Then you must excuse me, Master Goddur, we have preparations to make.” She rose from the table. “It was nice to see you again Master Wegrang.”

When Zhu returned to her own table, she noticed an extra goblin. “Who is this?” she asked.

“This is Jota, another warrior, we just hired her.” said Fizzrelda.

“Hello, mistress, I’m glad to be of service.” said Jota.

“Why do we need another warrior?”

“Excuse me, Lady Paand, it is better we have an even number.” said Gredra. “Having seven was an administration strategy, which enforced your leadership role. Having eight allows us to form into pairs for mutual support and ensure tactical success.”

“Enough about strategy and hiring,” said Fizzrelda, “tell us what happened with Groddur, mistress.”

“He just hired us to escort him to Orlogne.” said Zhu.

“He hired us? Mistress, I don’t trust him, this can’t be real.” said Fizzrelda.

Zhu Paand tossed the purse on the table and said, “I don’t trust him either, Fizzrelda, but he paid us an advance and it’s real.”

The job is to guard a traveler by playing 1/2D6 Wandering Encounters, each in a different area and the traveler has to survive. I rolled a 3, so there will be two Wandering Encounters.

Making a deal with someone who doesn’t like you? Sounds like a tale from a bad marriage. Your comments, suggestions and critiques are always welcome.

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Mistress of Time, Episode 4

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