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Journal #2

The Miller's Debt

By Shayalyn

Ralsu and I emerged on the other side of href="">The
Low Road; weary and a little worse for the wear, but in one piece.
Still a bit weak from my near-drowning, I found that I had to stop from
time to time and catch my breath. Ralsu had been teasing me
relentlessly about my apparent lack of swimming skills, and I had been
waving my mace at him menacingly while his back was turned, which
caused the occasional chuckle from passersby. Bards!

“I have a confession to make,” he said finally, a slight blush painting
his cheeks. “I swear I didn't remember it at the time, but…”

“Yes?” I said, glowering at him through squinted eyes.

“I didn't realize I was wearing these.” He pointed down at his feet.
“They're enchanted. Boots of Swimming.”

“Ugh! You take back every mocking word you said, Ralsu!” I grabbed my
mace, clutching the handle in one hand and slapping it against the
opposite palm threateningly. I think Ralsu might actually have run had
he not seen the whisper of a smile on my lips.

We decided to speak to a guard near the sewer entrance. He welcomed us,
despite our condition, and told us that we might speak to the Coin
Lord, Berrigan Enge, if we were looking for work.

“Let's find this tavern I've heard about first,” said Ralsu. “I could
use a rest and a pint of ale before we begin our next adventure.”

“You could use a bath,” I said, brushing the grime from my own armor.

“You don't exactly smell like roses yourself,” quipped the bard. I had
to agree; the stench of the sewers hung about us like a green vapor.

After we'd cleaned ourselves up at The Leaky Dinghy, and downed some
refreshments to help regenerate our strength and vigor, we headed back
toward the city gates to the area known as Aspirant's Corner. There we
found Enge. The well-dressed gentleman told us a bit about the Coin
Lords and their duties. “We are the masters of Stormreach,” he said,
and then added with a smile, “If only because we own most of it.” Enge
told us that the Coin Lords were not cruel in their dealings with the
citizens of Stormreach, and that it was their duty to protect and
preserve the city. “We are not popular with the lower classes,” he
admitted. “They envy us.”

Enge asked us if we would be willing to seek out Miller Tarrigan in his
home, just a few paces behind where he stood, and collect the goods
Tarrigan offered for his unpaid debt. “Our finances are in dire
straights from the harbor's closure,” Enge explained.

“We'll do it,” I said. Ralsu cocked his head in my direction and raised
an eyebrow, but then nodded his agreement.

As we entered the miller's home, I turned to Ralsu. “I haven't decided
if I like those Coin Lords, and Enge in particular; he seems a little
too slick for my taste. But it can't hurt to gain some favor with the
most powerful people in Stormreach, can it?”

“I suppose not,” said Ralsu.

Our search of the miller's home revealed nothing, so we made our way
into the dark basement. “I'm not sure I like this place,” I said,
glancing around at the hewn-out rShayalyn src=""
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walls. The smothering atmosphere seemed to glow a peculiar red color, a
color I associated with danger and death.

“Never fear,” said Ralsu. “I'm ready to do your swimming for you, if

“Very funny,” I rolled my eyes. “I don't suspect we'll have to do much
swimming, so you're probably off the hook. But, come to think of it,
I'll do your fighting for you.”

“Fair enough,” said Ralsu, cautiously proceeding.

A metallic clanking echoed through the corridor, and in seconds a
mechanical dog was upon us. “Iron defenders!” I cried. I took a swing
that glanced off the dog's head, and then quickly blocked its return
bite with my shield. “I wasn't exactly expecting this.”

Ralsu dove at the metal dog from behind. “You were expecting a
welcoming party for the tax collector's new friends, perhaps?”

Clank! A few moments later my mace connected with the beast's head and
it slumped to the floor. “Not exactly,” I said, catching my breath.
“But I wasn't figuring we'd come up against mechanical guard dogs,

“You keep using the plural form—‘dogs,' You know something I don't?”

“I'm guessing that where there's one…”

Just then another of the canine constructs lunged out of the shadows,
its sharp teeth sinking into Ralsu's thigh. Another dog leaped at me,
eyes glowing. “…there's more!” I grunted, heaving my weapon at the dog
as it bared its teeth to bite. I suddenly felt very thankful for my
iron shield.

We dispatched the creatures, but not without sustaining injuries. I
uttered arcane words that restored our health, and we moved deeper into
the basement, alert for signs of further danger. Crates lined the walls
of the cellar, but in our determination to find the miller we didn't
take time to investigate them.

We were nearing the end of the basement when we spotted Tarrigan,
trying in vain to hide in a corner. We approached him, and he told us
that the goods we sought were in the next room. But after we spoke,
Tarrigan suddenly ran off, shouting something about “Ironspike.” A
metal door flew open, and particularly nasty-looking iron defender
rushed toward us. I held up my shield, ready for the dog to lunge, but
it was Ralsu he fell upon. In his leather armor, the bard was suddenly
taking a harsh beating from the beast's vicious bites. Again, I uttered
words of healing. I struck at the monster, trying to draw his attention
to me, with my sturdier armor and shield, but the creature seemed bent
on destroying Ralsu. I could see my friend's life force fading. It
wasn't long before my healing magic failed to sustain him and,
incapacitated, he fell to the floor.

“Now let's see you go after me, you rusty hunk of scrap metal!” I
growled. The dog sunk his teeth href=""> alt="iron defender"
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 150px; height: 77px;" align="right"
hspace="5" vspace="5"> into my leg before I could ward off the
blow, and my vision blurred as my knees wobbled beneath me. Thank the
gods I had learned to heal. I quickly regained my vigor, but the dog
spewed a vile, greasy substance onto the floor and my feet went out
from under me. I landed in a heap while the construct lunged at my
throat. I regained my footing, healed myself again while warding off
the dog's blows, and then swung hard with my mace. The connecting blow
sent a shudder up my arm, and I leaped to the side, out of the way of
the defender's bite. This went on for some time until, finally,
Ironspike crumpled into a heap with a clatter and I ran to Ralsu's aid.

When my bard companion was restored to health, we ascended a ladder to
find two chests. In one lay the goods that Tarrigan had promised the
Coin Lords. In another, we found treasures. “We could leave these
untouched…” I said.

“Or we could take them for our troubles,” Ralsu finished, speaking the
thoughts that were already churning inside my head. After all, the
miller had set up an ambush, one which we barely survived. We snatched
the loot and headed back up to the city.

We emerged from the miller's home to find Enge waiting. He eagerly
grabbed the miller's items, and didn't seem disturbed by the fact that
we'd been attacked, or that the miller had run off. Payment seemed the
only thing that concerned him.

We trudged back to The Leaky Dinghy, once again ready to rest and
regroup. Whether Enge was deserving of our aid remains to be seen.
Still, we had gained the respect of the Coin Lords, and, at least for
the moment, that was enough for us.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Karen 1
Karen is H.D.i.C. (Head Druid in Charge) at EQHammer. She likes chocolate chip pancakes, warm hugs, gaming so late that it's early, and rooting things and covering them with bees. Don't read her Ten Ton Hammer column every Tuesday. Or the EQHammer one every Thursday, either.