The Gurgle is the name of a foul putrid intoxicant found only in the tavern known as The Shadow’s Nest. The drink has a reputation for putting even the most hardened veteran alcoholics into doubled over agony as their liver and kidneys attempt to flee the poisoned body in a final act of desperation to escape the ravages of the beverage, and here sitting at the cracked ebony bar we see a weathered grim man casually sipping his third Gurgle of the evening. Behind him sitting at one of the many round tables in this rather large tavern a Dwarven woman fumes in contempt at the man’s apparent abundance of apathy. Her silent judging glare that many would deem to be vastly more deadly than the copious amounts of alcohol the man has consumed seems to have little to no affect on her intended target as if this relationship has been at this stage for a quite some time.
In truth the exact nature of this pair’s relationship is of very little concern to everyone else, even the barkeep who has the grim man’s patronage to thank for single-handedly keeping his business out of the red during what the locals call long shadow season has taken no effort to get to know either customer. The only person seemingly interested in the two’s association is the newest barmaid Mimi who continually harasses them about how they are destined to form a romantic entanglement. Mimi’s odd hopeful lookout of the future and her natural bouncy and bubbly nature seem to be the only bright spot in this dim tavern or even in the entire town of Shade, named for being the closest town to dare be built by the foreboding and cursed Mount Silence. Being established just outside the shadow of the mountain has been very prosperous for the town gaining it a reputation as one of the most interesting way points along the Barter’s Path attracting merchants, caravans, and adventures from all sorts of walks of life over the years if for nothing more than it’s odd haunted and ominous surroundings.
Just as the man and his Dwarven drink counter are about to get into an argument over her cutting him off and having Mimi order him a large carrot juice the unmistakable sound of another caravan pulling up grabs the drunkard and his companions attention. It is accompanied by an odd rhythmic thunking that seems to be either getting louder or closer to the tavern. Any patron not completely immersed in their drink stops all activity to watch a Gnome piloting a suit of armor far too large for itself somehow. As the Gnome in his contraption clunks by he seems to be headed toward the large barn that has been re-purposed into a smithy. As the footsteps of the strange armor grow fainter the patrons go back to their usual business. The man, not caring enough to argue but also not about to sit at a bar and drink carrot juice, decides now is as good as time as any to stock up on supplies. Before he even gets up from his bar stool a group of six men enter the bar followed shorty by three very muscular and robust men and one equally if not more muscular and robust woman. The two groups seem to have arrived with the same caravan but quickly take seats on opposite sides of the dining area. The first group immediately draw the attention of both the man and the dwarf. The six men are all dressed the same in fine black silken shirts and pants, with a very expensive bright red sash around each of their waists. The men all have black hair cut in the same style and fixed to every sash is an odd skull shaped pendant very reminiscent of Kokuu’s holy symbol. This, of course, concerns the dwarf as she is a devout follower of Ciara sworn enemy of Kokuu the Inflictor and Infector.
After only a few minutes of listening to the possible group of Kokuu cultists the Dwarf is able to over hear what sounds like a plan to travel along with the caravan until they reach an ambush point. Once at this point the cultists will turn on the caravan along with the attackers they have placed and begin to gather what ever it is they came for. Armed with more than enough information to get involved both the drunk and the dwarf decide it’s time to get hired on as guards for the caravan so they can act as protection should their eavesdropping prove to be true. Both head off for the former barn now smithy surprisingly making it into the building a few minutes before the gnome in his strange contraption.