After conferring with their ship for precise coordinates, Hugo sent both Templeton and Kida (along with the inquisitive Melissa Amarie) back to their RHC-granted ship, where they changed course from Seobriga to Citado Cavallo. They also charged Hugo with sending a warning to the leadership at the Risuri fort of Manhill, calling on them to expect a sudden naval strike from Ber as a worst-case scenario.
Sailing into the port city and admiring the cliffside scenery untouched by Ber’s fledgling industry, Kida almost immediately parted ways from Templeton, displaying a plethora of caution by approaching the warlord’s keep via stealth while the gunsmith met with de Guerra’s men and was readily escorted to the front gates. Once there, he was met with a heartwarming greeting:
“Well, if it isn’t another dog, lapping at the hooves of Shantus. Give me one good reason not to tell my men to kill you for having the audacity to dirty the ground of my city with your filthy paws!”
Templeton was less than apologetic, a stance which seemed to earn the orc’s respect as he opened the gates and the soldiers present began to treat Templeton less as an invader and more as a foreign dignitary. He bade Templeton to join him at a banquet table set out in the middle of the courtyard, swarming with members of his extended family, rather than his assistants and underlings. After hearing of the circumstances for the constable’s visit, Cavallo got straight to business, saying he’d need two things to even consider paying off his supposed debt to Shantus: a favor to earn his approval of the RHC, and a trade to make up for what he’d be giving up.
For the favor, he suggested a targeted strike on a tribe of annoying goblins that had been raiding outlying towns, accompanied by strange insectoid monsters. His own military forces were largely sea-based and ill-equipped to handle land assaults. For the trade, he wanted to get the blessing of the archfey Beshela, specifically to have permission to use once-forbidden sea routes to open up new avenues for once-forbidden sea lanes for both merchant and military ships, and for her to grant protection from sea monsters. Templeton saw no issue with these requests, and agreed.
Kida snuck her way into Cavallo’s main keep, spying a hefty horde of treasure under guard in the main hall, which explained why the banquet was being held outside (as they later discovered, the big news in Citado Cavallo was that de Guerra had just unearthed the trove of one of the nation’s dead dragon tyrants). However, she made her way deeper, into the fortress’ living quarters, following a mother and child she had seen turned away from the banquet outside. The child at least seemed related to the warlord, young enough to be his grandson, and was hobbling with a leg both bandaged and splinted.
Upon catching up to them, Kida suddenly remembered she didn’t speak a word of the local language, and the ensuing shock of a pale-skinned elf in the fortress sent the base onto high alert until Templeton explained the situation. Gruffly, de Guerra ordered them out, and not to return unless they had something for him.
The two set out with Templeton’s squad in tow, arguing all the way along the mountainside, their disparate backgrounds and beliefs creating escalating friction and casting wonder as to why the pair agreed to be alone together on this mission in the first place. Finally, they tracked the goblins to their cave lair, and even without backup they managed to lay waste to the defenders, mostly dog-sized ants with a few beetle-mounted goblins mixed in, along with an umber hulk somehow tainted by elemental fire. Just before they could slay the chieftain (controlling the vermin with a queen ant’s head-on-a-stick), a familiar figure emerged from the goblin’s cave, exclaiming, “Mein gott!”
What the heck was Wolfgang Von Recklinghausen doing here??