The party has established peaceful contact with the inhabitants of Tragor's Hold, but they only have a foot in the door. Can they negotiate with their scanty resources? Let's find out.
As the appointed time approaches, the group looks over the items chosen as sample wares. "That's kind of sad," mutters Ohwatoo. Used and stained canvas. A hank of rope. a somewhat dull axe. A sack of copper coins. There are a few bright spots though, a steel mirror, nails, spikes, a hammer, and the various bits of jewelry and small gems found in the Maze.
"There's nothing wrong with this stuff," says Raúguey.
"Merchants don't usually sell used goods. We'll just have to see how it goes," says Durego. He looks toward the gate and notices Tragor and several others have reappeared. "Time to go." He grabs an armload of stuff while Maro stuffs the smaller items into a sack. Mordikarr grabs the rest. The rest of the party goes about the motions of preparing camp, but all have weapons handy.
The envoys reach the gate. Tragor and his companions give them the once-over, then gestures at the gate. "Come, accept our humble hospitality." Maro does not hesitate, leading the way inside. Mordikarr and Ohwatoo follow. Durego pauses and gives the rest of the party a worried look before following the others inside.
The compound is a simple affair. There are a dozen or so split-log buildings with thatched roofs. Many are partially dug into the hilltop. A hog pen, empty save for one enormous sow, is near the gate. There is a row of bee hives near one of the huts, and drying racks around the edge of the central open area. One larger building rises above the others. It has a wood-shingled roof and a carved boar's head decorates the roof-beam. A broad wooden porch stretches across the front of this structure, and this is where Tragor leads the group. People, young, old, and not so old, are scattered around the village, some working, but most watching the party, especially the kids. For the most part they have the Toresden look, pale and light-haired, but there are quite a few with dark hair mixed in the crowd.
There are benches and stools scattered around the porch, and Tragor gestures to these. He is joined by the huge woman and the younger man who first met the party, plus the old woman who stood near the gate. Durego's sharp eye catches the boar's head medallion she wears, and offers her a greeting in the name of Agnia, which garners a smile and a polite greeting to the servant of Erlinga in return. When everyone is seated, a three people bring out a kettle of stew and a large crockery jug. They serve everyone a bowl of stew, pork flavored with stewed fruits, and a cup of sweet mead. After weeks of trail food, it's glorious.
Little is said while the group eats, but when everyone is done, the dishes are cleared away, and the cups are refilled, you get down to business. Maro spreads your wares before the villagers. Tragor and the other man, Belon, produce goods of their own, bundles of cured hides and pelts, deer, skunk, beaver, squirrel, and marten; clay jars of mead, sweet and dark; and woven sacks filled with dried flowers and seeds, potently fragrant.
It's clear early on that money will be of no use here, the place runs on barter and favors. Further you get a clear sense that these are poor folk, scraping a bare living out of the wild lands here. The villagers are most interested in the tools, the silk rope, and the samples of liquor and wine you brought. The various treasures draw some attention, Tragor seems personally interested in the bracers. Belon is disappointed that the party has no weapons to trade.
During discussions things are noticeably more relaxed, though Mordikarr notes several men hanging around the square, armed with bows and short blades. Durego spends time chatting with the old woman, Shelma, who is the villager's priestess. Cabola, the huge woman, has little to say. She appears bored with the discussions, and wanders off from time to time, though she remains within sight. Several other villagers hang around the edge of the platform, including several children, who whisper and giggle amongst themselves.
As the groups talk, Maro mentions some of the party's encounters, the gnolls, the Jago clan, the ghouls they killed, the necromancer in Blackpool, and the ruined tower with its nests. Most of these are unknown to the villagers, who rarely stray more than eight or ten miles from their home. They know of the gnolls, who sometimes raid in the area, and the flying 'shrieking terrors' who sometimes carry off a pig or a villager caught out alone. They seem fairly confident in their defenses though.
As things wind down, Tragor offers a fine deer hide cloak with a furred collar decorated with squares of polished wood and bone. he also gives them a smoked ham and a jug of mead to share with those in camp, and a pair of well-made soft boots for Tesso. Maro gifts Tragor with the bracers and the rest of the wine (two skins) in return. As the sun settles westward, the party gathers their goods and says their goodbyes.
Tragor and Cabola see the envoys to the gate. As the four begin walking back, a massive bear appears on the edge of the woods to the southeast. Startled by the beast's sudden appearance the group pauses, unsure if they should continue or return to the safety of the walls. Tragor waves them on. Cabola heads for the bear, who breaks into a trot and approaches the woman. When they meet she gives it a hug, her arms barely reaching around the beast's neck. The pair follow Tragor into the village and the party is left to their own devices.
"Mordikarr, you should tame a friend like that," whispers Ohwatoo.
OOC - a few observations.
Shelma the priestess, is old, but seemingly competent. Everyone in the village appeared healthy and fit.
The villagers seem fairly confident that they are safe here, but their range is fairly limited. They were interested in the stuff the party had to say about BPM, but didn't seem like it worried them much. They knew nothing of the Jago clan.
They have furs, mead, and some spices they can offer in trade. The wine and rum samples were of interest. They seemed disappointed the group didn't have any weapons to trade. Most of what the envoys saw carried was bows and arrows and iron long knives or hand axes, though one villager carried one of the big gnoll blades, and another a heavy axe.
Maro sensed some tension between Tragor and Belon. The younger man was more interested in the party's stories than Tragor.