The two obvious leads for earning lots of money while finding arcane power and/or horse-related items (their stated goals) were (1) dwarves in the north were complaining about vicious, murderous raiders led by a unicorn, and were offering 3000gp for the unicorn's head. Further details were unavailable locally. (2) was a newly found opening to the underdark, newly found because it had started spewing out hordes of weak undead. No one was actually hiring anyone to take care of it, but everyone knew that the drow had tons of magic, and many of the zombies and skeletons were drow.
They tentatively decided to head north. They weren't eager to hunt a unicorn, but as licensed adventurers they were allowed to take the unicorn's side if it turned out the dwarves were lying and/or evil. And if anyone knew where to get magic items for a horse, it'd be a unicorn -- and if not, the dwarves were famous for crafting.
But Ironhoof wanted to get barding for his dragonne first. Very *fancy* barding with several added features. The local blacksmith could make it, but even with all his assistants helping him, it'd take most of a year. That was not acceptable, so he and Alex decided to take a short side-trip to the nearest major city, which was only about a day's travel away.
At the gate, they were stopped by a group of 'adventurers' claiming that they'd stolen their ID, and demanding they give it back or die. There was an elven archer with her face painted to look like Alex's skunk fur, riding an ordinary horse, with a crocodile companion; two ordinary minotaurs (one of which insisted "I'm you! Ironfinch!" "And I'm Skullhoof!"), and an ice mephit who claimed to be Lilia.
As it became obvious that a fight was brewing, the townsfolk gathered around to watch. This was enough of a hint for the rest of the party to wander towards the fight in time to join in (by about round two; they had to push through the crowd first). The squirrel perched on a rooftop, playing fight music to give everybody +1 to hit and damage, so that they could put on a good show.
At any rate, the ambushers wouldn't back down, so it came to a fight. Alex took out the mephit before it could do anything, then ran back through the gate to hide behind the town's palisade and shoot out the 'arrowslits' (the gaps where the sharpened logs making up the wall didn't fit together well). Ironhoof cast entangle to annoy the minotaurs signifantly, and keep the elf at a distance firing her bow after her horse got stuck, while his companion swooped down to pounce one of the minotaurs. This hurt the minotaur quite a bit, but the dragonne was the one who ended up bleeding and dying on the ground.
Skullfist bulled his way through the crowd, and got the other minotaur's attention, in time to get chewed on by the crocodile. The crocodile didn't last long, though -- Lilia summoned a lemure which clawed it to pieces, then went on to finish off the minotaur Skullfist was deuling. Skullfist was helped in his duel by Pony's 'Burning Disarm' spell, which made the minotaur drop his axe to avoid taking a ton of damage. [by the way, that spell is pretty broken for 1st level, but it's from an official source so I'll just deal with it]
The other minotaur was taken down mostly by Ironhoof, if I remember right. In plenty of time to save his Dragonne.
Oh, and the elf was sniped through the eye by Alex and instantly killed, about halfway through the battle. x3 crit + sneak attack = OUCH. The horse was unhurt, and Lilia took it as her mount.
Everyone cheered the victorious heroes, especially after they showered the crowd with money (which Ironhoof had *meant* to toss to the squirrel, but the squirrel fumbled his catch). Even when Ironhoof slit the dying minotaurs' throats while they were lying helpless. Skullfist and Lilia were a bit shocked, but Pony explained that since they had an adventurer license, they were allowed to do stuff like that.
It did mean they spent another night in town healing up, though -- the minotaurs' axes had hit hard. To help with that they attended the local priest's 'healing circle', where he gathered up townsfolk to give them a sermon against the gods while using his channel energy to heal everyone at once. ("Feel the power of the divine! This power is inside each of you, and the gods would have you believe that they were granting it for your use, while in fact they were taking it to sustain their own heavens, and forcing you to be grateful for the dregs left behind.") Pony tried to argue with him, but was... significantly outclassed in the rhetoric department [-7 diplomacy vs. +11 or something].
Oh, and they questioned the inkeeper about the elf, since she'd had suspiciously little coin on her (the minotaurs had been carrying their pay, but she had nothing). Since he'd seen her killed, he was happy enough to show them to the basement, where she'd been doing... something that she paid him to keep secret and not look into. Apparently, this something involved summoning dozens of mephits, since the basement was full of mephits. They weren't instantly hostile, but backing away slowly and locking the basement door seemed like the best immediate plan -- mephits can each cast magic missile once per day, so fighting a flock of them, SOMEONE is going to die.
Pony joked, later, that by the time they got back to Crossroads, the mephits would all be working for the innkeeper. "They were ice mephits, so they can chill the drinks."
Eventually, they got on the road. To the side-trip to go shopping in the nearby port, which was Silver Sails or something. On the way, they met a gypsy caravan full of... devils? No, they were apparently some sort of pacifist dryad that just *looked* like devils. The party didn't want their fortune read, but Skullfist did chat with one of the elders about magic. "Seek out elemental rifts," was the gist of his advice.
The city looked like it had once been a lot more impressive than it was now; the original human architecture had been repaired in a haphazard fashion by the orcs after they captured the city, and the whole city was kind of down on its luck since the empire collapsed.
They found a blacksmith who had some standardized parts to let him assemble super-spiffy dragonne barding more quickly (in a week or two), and Pony bought a horse to be his animal companion. The horse trader offered a discount to try to get them to buy 'Widowmaker', a 'spirited' horse that was hard to handle, but Lilia found an ordinary looking horse that the trader hadn't noticed was a lot smarter than normal -- a much better bargain even at full price.
On the way out of the city, they were mobbed by a swarm of starving children. Skullfist handed out fistfulls of the crappy wooden darts he'd salvaged from the adventurer test's dart traps, but it was Alex who managed to create a distraction for the party to run away and hide before they were all nibbled to death by orphans.
Except for Skullfist, who didn't manage to hide, and had to run for it through the streets, with the howling mob of children in pursuit.
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