Caer for a Dance?   Posted by Mr. DM.Group: archive A
Mr. DM
 GM, 257 posts
Wed 27 May 2009
at 12:51
Caer for a Dance?
The rain had not abated for the past three days. Falling - it seemed - almost continuously, the wet had made the roads something of a nightmare to travel. In the valleys the coursing streams led to mud that was in places calf-deep. Atop the hills there was little shelter, droplets of rain pounding into travellers' faces.

In these cirumstances even four-legged animals struggled; carts and wagons were frequently stuck. It was quicker, if more dirty, to walk.

Tamika had been on her journey for a little over two weeks, sleeping at inns where possible, and pleading with farmers for shelter where not. Her trusty staff had seen much use as she made her way into the hills of North Ddaran. This was strange new territory for her - much further north than she'd ever travelled. At least the people seemed the same wherever she went. Peasants and villeins walked the roads side-by-side with merchants and mercenaries.

Now she was in sight of the walls of her goal - Caer Anddross. The city looked inviting from this distance. Smoke rose from many of the houses, their inhabitants clearly keeping their abodes warm as a haven against the foul weather outside. The river Ross bisected the city, and at this distance it was possible to make out a couple of tall ships docked at the wharves. Several towers stood out, taller than those even of the city walls: the two towers of the keep within the Caer, and four towers clustered together roughly in the centre of the city. Pennants and flags flew at various places on the fortifications. Along with the whitewashed walls, the sight would be rather impressive in better conditions.

Tamika had been told of two people that could be worth looking up.

One was Garth, a fence. He was supposed to be found in the Scars, wherever that was. She'd been told he was quite the mover and would be able to get her on the right footing - for a suitable price, of course. Naturally she'd have to be a little cautious. Those with power invariably had sharp teeth.

The other contact was rather more legitimate - Maria, a cousin of Tam's mother. She was said to live somewhere in Tanholme, and was a tanner's assistant by trade. Though it didn't seem likely that Maria would know much of the more specialised information Tamika would be after, as a cover and more civilian view of the city she could be invaluable.

Tamika now approached a gate into the city, the eastern-most of the two south-facing portals. The building certainly was huge, of much more substantial construction than the walls of Tam's previous home town.

A few bored-looking guards lounged around the gateway, half-heartedly inspecting the entering traffic.
Tamika Ward
 player, 9 posts
 Enchanting Half-Elf
Wed 27 May 2009
at 13:57
Re: Caer for a Dance?
The journey north had been quite an irritation. Tam didn’t mind the rain so much, the cold kept people inside and footsteps unheard. Nor did she mind having to barter for shelter. She supposed she had been fortunate, having been able to find a roof to sleep under most nights, but she would still complain to herself endlessly. She hated being dirty and as she looked down at her mud covered boots she sighed, it would take days for the grime to wear off. Thankfully the rest of her clothing was only wet, nothing a night inside wouldn’t make right. She was cold, always cold, and it seemed that every night she slept was colder than the last, but for some reason it never seemed to bother her much.

Not for the first time she regretted not preparing better for the journey. No bedroll, tent or even blanket, at the very least she wished she had the foresight to purchase a cloak. As she shook her head to toss the water from her hair she looked up at the city before her. Caer Anddross, she knew little of the city but from what she had heard from those sharing her journey north the potential for wealth in the city was near endless. Naďve nobles, petty criminals, royalty and castles, the thought made her grin. She wasn’t so simple as to believe everything from these peasants, but she held hopes.

Garth. The name came to her again as she thought of who she was to see. While a relation could be helpful she’d rather not impose on family, at least not for now. Perhaps once she has the lay of the land, so to speak, she could indulge in some family time. The Scars was a curious name, by its very implication Tam had some idea of where to look.

As she approached the guards she looked up at them with innocent eyes as she brushed wet strands of hair out of her face. ”Excuse me sirs. I’m here to visit family, could you direct me to Tanholme?” She looked past the guards, deeper into the city, ”Are there any areas I should avoid while I’m in the city? I could also use the name of a good Tavern.”
Mr. DM
 GM, 259 posts
Wed 27 May 2009
at 14:34
Re: Caer for a Dance?
Two guards smirked at each other, then looked the young half-elf up and down. The taller of the two spoke to her:

"Tanholme? Follow this road straight, an' across the bridge, then keep on it till you're at Cathedral Square. Can't miss it. Tanholme is on the west side o't' square, what'll be to your left as you enter the square."

He chuckled a little at Tam's question about areas to avoid.

"Pretty lady like you, I wouln't go out anywhere after dark wi'out an escort! Serious though, stay away from the Scars. As for a tavern, any on the main road 'ere or in the square'll do. The Bear's Claw on the square, that's a good 'un."

The other guard grunted at this.

"He only says that cos his nephew works there. Try the Four Towers if you want somewhere a bit nicer."
Tamika Ward
 player, 11 posts
 Enchanting Half-Elf
Wed 27 May 2009
at 14:58
Re: Caer for a Dance?
Tamika thanked the guards and followed the road north as directed. She sighed inwardly at the guards ‘assistance’, they weren’t exactly forthcoming about where the Scars were. She could walk the streets, but the last thing she wanted was to be lost in the city. Instead it would be The Bear’s Claw. That would do for a tavern. She wasn’t looking for anything ‘nice’, indeed the information she was after would likely be more difficult in a ‘nice’ tavern.

She continued walking and stopped as she crossed a bridge, looking either way along the river. She figured she was in the east of the city, at least that’s what it looked like from the outside, her view from the bridge confirmed it. Continuing down the street Tam headed left at the T-junction, assuming the square would be in the centre of the city. Coming to the square Tam took a moment to look around before starting her circuit, looking for The Bear’s Claw.
Mr. DM
 GM, 260 posts
Wed 27 May 2009
at 15:46
Re: Caer for a Dance?
Dominated by the cathedral after which it was named, the square was huge. At this time it was filled with travellers, hawkers, clergy, local tradesfolk, and a town crier who hollered out news at the top of his voice.

The cobbles underfoot were slick with rain, but still a preferable surface to the mud of the roads. To the north stood a large gate. The traffic through it was noticably lighter than the gate through which Tamika had entered.

The buildings bordering on the square were mostly shops, though those to the south were houses. Many streets led away; the western-most were broader than the narrow streets in the east. Regardless, the houses Tamika could see were of much lower quality than the impressive ones she'd seen on her way to the bridge.

The Bear's Claw was the first inn Tamika came to as she began to walk around the sqaure in a westerly direction. The broad street it stood at the end of led down to another bridge, towards the south-west area of Anddross.

Inside, the inn was teeming. Travelers formed most of the press, marked out by their rugged and dirty clothes. There was a broad mix of races - humans, halflings, gnomes, and even the odd dwarf. A number of folk stood out as clergy with their simple robes and tonsured hair.

Two bars served the large hall. Several serving staff hurried back and forth, clearly struggling to cope with the midday rush.
Tamika Ward
 player, 12 posts
 Enchanting Half-Elf
Wed 27 May 2009
at 23:17
Re: Caer for a Dance?
Thankful to be out of the mud Tam stamped her feet on the side of the street, hoping to get rid of some of the grime caked on her boots.  She was frustrated, by the travelling, not knowing the city and on top of everything else she was filthy! She resolved to bathe as soon as possible, or at the very least find herself a bucket of water. But first she had to find somewhere to stay.

The inn was not what Tam was expecting, although from the number of people outside she should have expected the inn to be full. She cast a brief glance around the inn before walking to the nearest bar and waiting. As she waited she looked around the inn, it wasn’t the right kind of place she was after but at least she could get directions here. More accurate ones than the guards gave anyway.

As Tam was served she gave her most charming smile, ”Oh no, nothing for me. I’m afraid I’m a bit lost. Where in the city would I find the Scars?”
Mr. DM
 GM, 264 posts
Thu 28 May 2009
at 00:02
Re: Caer for a Dance?
The bartender - a young woman not yet Tam's age - returned her smile.

"'s just across the square there. Imagine you was coming in the north gate - if you turned straight left, you'd be in the Scars."

She gave Tam a friendly, knowing smile.

"It's not as bad as folk say it is, really. I live there meself. Trouble's not likely to find you unless you go looking for it!"

With that the girl turned politely to other waiting customers - those with coin ready in their hands.
Tamika Ward
 player, 14 posts
 Enchanting Half-Elf
Thu 28 May 2009
at 01:05
Re: Caer for a Dance?
Tam wasted no time in leaving the inn. She left The Bear’s Claw and crossed the square, sliding down the nearest alley Tam headed into the Scars. She had no destination in particular, figuring it would be wise to explore this part of the city during the day. As she walks she keeps an eye out for any taverns in the Scars as they would likely be her next destination.

As she walked Tam thought back on what the bargirl said. She knew places of ill reputation were generally overstated in their danger, after all she had been living in such places for years now. She wondered how the Scars differed from the slums of other cities. Trouble's not likely to find you unless you go looking for it! She had to agree. The only problem was that she is looking for trouble.
Mr. DM
 GM, 265 posts
Thu 28 May 2009
at 12:19
Re: Caer for a Dance?
Passing a few run-down looking mansions on the edge of the square, Tamika headed deep into the Scars. The houses here were tall - often of 3 or 4 storeys - and many leaned inwards towards their counterparts on the opposite side of the street. Washing lines hung between some houses, though devoid of clothes in the downpour.

The people here were clearly poorer than the others she'd seen so far in the city. Their garments were less colourful, and of lesser quality. Tamika certainly didn't see any nobles or merchants, but the odd mercenary or guard patrol forced their way down the streets, causing folk to jump out of the way of the armed men.

For all this though, the people seemed happy. Women stood in doorways talking to their neighbours or shouting across the street to other residents. Children played, making the most of their surroundings in their games. The air was one of folk content in their circumstances and living life with vigour.

Tamika's practiced eye saw more though: the shadowy figures conducting shady dealings in alleyways who scarpered at the first sight of anyone armed; houses seemingly lacking in residents, all shutters closed; tough-looking men who gave anyone looking at them the evil eye. There was a definite undercurrent of criminality here.

It soon became clear that the district was not a trading one - there were very few shops or businesses. It wasn't until Tamika got deep into the Scars, almost to the eastern city wall, that she found a tavern. The establishment was surrounded by a six-foot high stone wall - though not a patch on the city walls it certainly passed on a message. Outside the archway that led within the barrier stood no less than three large men wearing leather armour and carrying cudgels, one of whom even seemed to have orc blood in him. Peering through the opening Tam spotted another few guards within the grounds - two on the door and another two making their way along the perimeter.

A sign hung near the top of the wall at the left of the archway proclaimed this to be the Swung Fist. Incongrously, the grounds inside the walls were laid to a well maintained garden.
Tamika Ward
 player, 15 posts
 Enchanting Half-Elf
Thu 28 May 2009
at 12:50
Re: Caer for a Dance?
Tam couldn’t help but smile as she walked through the narrow streets. For the first time since entering the city she felt like she could enjoy it here. This was the kind of city she enjoyed and for every darkened alley she passed and every shady deal she witnessed her smile grew that much wider. This is going to be fun!

By the time she found the Swung Fist she was beaming, a place to sleep and a few friends and she’d fit in here just fine. She studied the walls with a quiet curiosity, it was certainly interesting and perhaps said something of the neighborhood that a tavern needed to be walled in. Still, Tam’s smile never faded, if there was already crime busy in the city it would make her actions more likely to go unnoticed.

Walking up the archway Tam smiled up at the guards, ”Hi boys.” She looks to the half-orc and gives him a wink, ”What’s the story with the walls? You must be hidin’ some mighty fine wine in there.” She looks past the guards briefly before looking back at them, raising her eyebrows.
Mr. DM
 GM, 266 posts
Thu 28 May 2009
at 13:06
Re: Caer for a Dance?
Two of the guards remained stony-faced, but the half-orc grinned in response.

"New are ya? Damn right the wine is fine."

One of the other guards nudged his comrade and made a muttered crack about the orc being a poet and not being aware of the fact, which earned him a clip around the ear.

"Excuse him. As I were saying - best wine in the district. Best ale, best dancers, best beds. You comin' in?"

The half-orc leered a little at Tamika.
Tamika Ward
 player, 16 posts
 Enchanting Half-Elf
Thu 28 May 2009
at 13:17
Re: Caer for a Dance?
Tam laughed lightly at the half-orcs response and held out her hand, ”I’m Tam.”

She once again cast her gaze past the guards and towards the entrance of the tavern before looking back. ”The place looks great,” She looks between the guards, ”If you get a break you should come in, I’ll be the one giving your dancers a run for their money!”

Leaving the guards with a parting grin she heads towards the taverns entrance, waving back to them before walking inside.
Mr. DM
 GM, 270 posts
Thu 28 May 2009
at 15:37
Re: Caer for a Dance?
The big fellow grinned and took her hand lightly.

"We don't give out our names. But you have a nice time, now."

A low stone building of two stories, the tavern was of much better construction than the surroundings. Its quality was further marked out by the glass in the windows - a rare luxury. The guards at the entrance to the tavern itself waved Tam inside, having seen the exchange at the archway. She was told to take the inner door to the left within the small panelled hallway; the right hand door was watched over by another huge half=orc, this one armed with a longsword at his side.

The main room of the tavern was huge, and the atmosphere was surprisingly refined. Three huge tables were laid along the length of the room, with benches down each long side. The patrons were a mix of locals and tradesfolk. There seemed to be very few travellers here. Two huge hearths provided heat, and a bar ran along the far side of the room, an arch on the right of it leading to some stairs, and another arch beyond the first, to the right. Dark wood panelling lined the walls.

Behind the bar were two staff - a young beardless man with long brown hair, and an older woman in a nice blue dress.
Tamika Ward
 player, 17 posts
 Enchanting Half-Elf
Fri 29 May 2009
at 01:31
Re: Caer for a Dance?
Tam slowly walked up to the tavern proper as she admired the gardens, curious as to why they were so well kept and who was maintaining them. She smiled again to the guards at the entrance, her eyes lingering on the large half-orc before she turned left as instructed. She wasn’t often surprised, but given the locale of the tavern, the mini-fortress look of the building belied its interiors. I could definitely find a home here.

She looked back the the door she was guided away from, curious as to the need of so many guards. But her attentions were turned to the heat of the open fire. Drawn to the open flames Tam squatted down in front of the hearth and closed her eyes, enjoying the heat for just a moment before standing back up. She stood by the fire, wringing her hands and running her fingers through her hair as she looked about the room, studying those present more carefully.

Once she was satisifed her hair was dry and body warmed Tam walked up to the bar and got the attention of the young man serving, ”I was lead to believe there’d be dancing.” She said, looking around the large room. Grinning she turned back to the man, ”How much for a room?” Judging by the quality of the tavern she thought she’d hazard a further query. ”And a bath.”
Mr. DM
 GM, 281 posts
Fri 29 May 2009
at 12:38
Re: Caer for a Dance?
The patrons in the room looked as if they were what they seemed - though there was the odd rough-and-ready looking labourer, none appeared to be in Tam's line of work.

"If that's what you're 'ere for, you want that hall."

The young chap indicated the arch to the right of the bar. Sure enough, Tam could hear strains of music floating through.

He looked her up and down, smirking slightly.

"It's 2 gold for the night. If you're good for it, it's well worth the coin. Don't get many folk asking for a bath - that's 2 gold as well."

He smiled as if to forestall any protests.

"I take it you're not local, so I'll let you know - the ale and wine is not so expensive."
Tamika Ward
 player, 18 posts
 Enchanting Half-Elf
Fri 29 May 2009
at 13:46
Re: Caer for a Dance?
"Two gold?" After two weeks on the road Tam was looking forward to a bed. But not at that price. After weighing up the options in her head, she guessed that secure lodging for a few nights was worth the price while she settled into the city.

"I'll pay for three nights up now," She reached into her beltpouch, her nimble fingers quickly drawing out six gold coins. Stacking them in a single pile on the bar she continued, "And you can draw a bath for free" It was a statement rather than a question, even though she didn't mean to be rude it was the quickest and easiest barter she was willing to make.

"I'll take a bottle of wine and a glass, any red from the south would be fine." She turns her head to the music and smiles, she didn't know whether a drink, bath or dance was the first thing she'd be doing.

She turns back to the barman, "Is the boss around? Can you let him know I'm lookin' for work."
Mr. DM
 GM, 288 posts
Fri 29 May 2009
at 17:35
Re: Caer for a Dance?
The young man checked Tam's gold then, satisfied, reached below the bar and produced a heavy iron key.

"You got yourself a deal. Room's upstairs, the one at the very end on the left. Let me know when you want your bath and I'll send up a maid. The south wing - that's the door to the right with the big guard as you come in, can't miss it - is off limits. On pain of, well, pain."

He drew a bottle of red from the shelf at the back of the bar. The bottle was unmarked. A glass followed. He enquired of Tam whether she'd take here drink her or in her room.

At her mention of work he raised an eyebrow.

"What kind of work? Those who stay here don't usually need to ask for it..."
Tamika Ward
 player, 19 posts
 Enchanting Half-Elf
Sat 30 May 2009
at 00:06
Re: Caer for a Dance?
Tam took the key and pretended to ignore the comment on the south wing. Now that she had been told it was off limits it made her that much more curious as to why. Don't soil where you sleep. The thought came to her and she begrudingly had to agree, perhaps her investigations could wait but she could see no harm in asking around if she wanted to sate her curiosity.

"Oh I'm sure I can do anything a tavern would have need of, as for the specifics, I'd rather talk it over with him." Tam had considered dropping a hint of her profession but didnt trust the young man to pick up on her innuendo. "Let him know I'll be dancing if he wants to talk."

"Please have the bath drawn immediately and the bottle taken to my room." Perhaps she would have time for a quick dance while her room was being prepared.

Once her affairs were in order Tam thanks the barman and walked through the indicated archway, into the dancing hall beyond.
Mr. DM
 GM, 300 posts
Sun 31 May 2009
at 19:38
Re: Caer for a Dance?
Looking slightly amused, the young man replied:

"I'll ask him to look out for you. I'll see to your room right away."

Tamika passed through the archway into the next hall. This room was at least as big as the other, and if anything more ornate. Tapestries complimented the panelling; scenes of nature and mythical beasts alongside some of less wholesome nature.

There was only one bar in this hall. At the far end, a stage was occupied by three female dancers. A couple more were performing on two of the smaller tables that were dotted around the room. Doors opened off to the right - six in all, ranged along the wall. As Tam entered, a fat merchant was being led into one of these side rooms by a young woman.

A haze in the air and several sweet smells gave away just what was being smoked in the pipes of those present.

To the side of the stage, three minstrels provided the musical setting for the nights activities.
Tamika Ward
 player, 21 posts
 Enchanting Half-Elf
Mon 1 Jun 2009
at 04:23
Re: Caer for a Dance?
Tam knew she shouldn’t have been surprised about the exact type of dancing that the tavern offered. She was just expecting something a bit more refined, not exactly the stuff of ballrooms and palaces, but pleasant, wholesome dancing. She raised a palm to her face and chuckled as she thought on the reactions of the guard and the barman. Perhaps she would have approached things a bit differently had she known. Perhaps not, as modesty wasn’t a great concern and she could think of nothing better to be paid for than dancing.

Taking a seat near the entrance Tam briefly watched the performers on stage. Studying the routine briefly Tam stood up, leaving her backpack, weapon and boots by the chair she began walking up to the stage. She wasn’t exactly attired for dancing, leather armor and bare feet, but that had never stopped her before.

Reaching the stage Tam beckons the nearest dancer and gives her a wink, ”Room up there for one more?”
Mr. DM
 GM, 301 posts
Mon 1 Jun 2009
at 09:08
Re: Caer for a Dance?
A young woman dressed in a blue robe stepped over to Tam, incorporating her movements gracefully into the dance.

"Long as you don't take any tips from us and you can keep up!"
Tamika Ward
 player, 22 posts
 Enchanting Half-Elf
Mon 1 Jun 2009
at 09:27
Re: Caer for a Dance?
Tam smiles, "Oh, all tips are yours. You are welcome to share mine."

Stepping up to the stage Tam takes an appropriate position and begins to move with the music, happy that after a number of weeks she was able to perform in an appropriate venue. Given the surprising refinement of the tavern Tam was encouraged to perform to all of her potential, she was not only enjoying the opportunity but also seeking employment. Her smile beams as the patrons of the bar watch her move and dip. Giving subtle smiles and nods to those who catch her eye she continues her dance.

Her pace livens up quickly and with a grin she picks up on the melody. Beginning in a whirl of exhilaration and a series of glissades and sidesteps Tam laughs lightly while encouraging the other dancers on stage.


Tamika Ward rolled 24 using 1d20+12. Perform(dance) check.
Mr. DM
 GM, 302 posts
Mon 1 Jun 2009
at 09:58
Re: Caer for a Dance?
Catching the attentions of the crowd, Tam put on an impressive show. Recognising her skill at this particular dance, the other three moved back a little to allow her the limelight.

The minstrels subtly adjusted their playing to suit the newcomer's style, dropping hints of traditional Ddaran folk music into their tune.

A few punters gathered near the front of the stage, cheering. Despite the apparent purpose of the building, the group was mixed - male and female, young adult to venerated elder, halfing and human - lending weight to the suggestion that the Swung Fist served as entertainment hub for a goodly portion of the city.




OOC: The tips you get will depend on how long you dance for, naturally. It's just the one check though.
Tamika Ward
 player, 23 posts
 Enchanting Half-Elf
Mon 1 Jun 2009
at 10:18
Re: Caer for a Dance?
Tam continued to dance for some time, her practice and health allowing her to perform long past breaking a sweat. With such an attentive crowd gathering Tam was inspired to perform much longer than she had originally anticipated. Originally it was only her intent to gain the attentions of those who made the decisions in regards to employment, but her vanity and ego made her continue. The loving attentions of the crowd and the recognition that she was entertaining gave her a feeling of pride and appreciation.

However, as much fun as she was having, thoughts of her bath getting cold caused her to cease. She may dance well and look fine, but she was sure she smelt as bad as a horse. Nodding to the minstrals to finish up Tam gave the crowd a generous curtsey as she stepped off the stage, just short of performing for an full hour.

Breathing deep she smiled generously to the gathered crowd and looked around for anyone who seemed to staff the place, hope in her eyes that the boss of the tavern was present for at least a part of her performance.