We rejoin our heroes as they continue their journey back to civilization. They have left the desert behind and are now travelling through lush grasslands. Ishi is worried about her crewmates, especially Agrivar who hasn’t spoken more than a dozen words to her since they left the desert.
Ishi’s musings are cut short by people crying for help. Looking over the hill, Ishi and Vartan see a merchant being attacked by robbers.
Grateful for the distraction, Ishi and Vartan enthusiastically engage. Minder and Foxilion follow somewhat more reluctantly. Omen and Agrivar, neither in good shape, decide to sit this one out.
The battle takes an unexpected turn when the “robbers” unmask and turn out to be elves. They claim that the humans are invaders who need to be punished. It doesn’t look like they are willing to listen to reason when they realize who Vartan is and drop to their knees.
Vartan is initially baffled by this reaction, but discovers that word of his time as Labelas’ avatar has spread among the elves. However, the official story being told by Labelas’ priests is somewhat more flattering than what actually happen. Vartan is pretty pissed, but before he can set them straight Ishi suggests that they take advantage of his newfound status to figure out what is going on.
The elf leader, Tashira, explains that humans are building farms in the Vale of Lost Voices and Myth Drannor itself. Myth Drannor is an ancient elven homeland. Even though it is long abandoned, ancient treaties with the surrounding human kingdoms forbid human settlement.
The merchant claims to have a charter signed by King Azoun IV granting him the right to settle in Myth Drannor. Foxilion is quickly able to identify it as a forgery though, since the purple ink of the royal seal seems to be made out of mashed boysenberries.
The merchant quickly backpedals and admits he won the charter in a card game with “a little guy” like Foxilion named Sandusk. This quickly prompts Tashira to insult both humans for their stupidity and halflings as “rat people”. Still, this is an improvement over attempting to kill them a few minutes ago.
Noticing that Agrivar is already getting into the merchant’s ale, Vartan decides to send Agrivar and Foxilion ahead to find Sandusk. Ishi is a bit concerned about this, but Vartan figures it is better than letting Agrivar dip into the merchant’s ale supply. Unfortunately Vartan’s plan backfires when it is revealed that Sandusk is staying at a tavern.
When Agrivar and Foxilion arrive at the tavern, they find Sandusk cleaning out some local farmers. They begin to question him when he asks them if they would like a drink. Agrivar hesitates, but seeing his reaction Sandusk presents Agrivar with the ultimate temptation for an alcoholic: A Mug of Everfilling Mead.
Sandusk offers to play him for it and Agrivar quickly agrees. Foxilion knows something is up, but Agrivar wins so he dismisses the halflings concerns. Agrivar continues to play and wins the first few hands. Not surprisingly though, once Sandusk has lured Agrivar in the tide turns and he soon cleans Agrivar out. Agrivar doesn’t take this well.
Just for the record, I love that Agrivar is still carrying around the meat cleaver he took from the Akri.
Foxilion uses this opportunity to reveal to Agrivar what he figured out long ago; Sandusk is a leprechaun who has been polymorphing the cards all night. Sandusk is about to leave when Foxilion challenges him to a game. Since he doesn’t have any money, the stakes are set as 100 gold against a day of Agrivar’s service as a personal bodyguard. Agrivar is horrified, but Foxilion tells him he has to trust him to get out of this mess.
Since Sandusk is still cheating, he quickly manages to get Agrivar’s services for a year and a day. Foxilion is not worried though because he wasn’t playing to win, he was playing for time. Specifically, he was waiting for Minder to show up.
So they play one last hand, and this time the leprechaun can’t cheat because he has an angry golem watching over his shoulder.
When the rest of the Realms’ Master crew arrives Sandusk is long gone. Foxilion presents the crew with his winnings and lets the elves know that the Sandusk has given up the real estate business for the time being. Minder is surprised that Foxilion would take such terrible risk by betting everything on one hand. Foxilion then lets Minder in on his secret.
Meanwhile, Ishi and Agrivar finally have a heart to heart. Ishi wants to help Agrivar overcome his drinking problem, but knows that his friends can’t help him unless he is ready to help himself. She bluntly tells him that the crew is moving on, but unless he is ready to accept their help he may as well stay in the town where he can hit rock bottom in relative safety.
Agrivar thinks long and hard about how far he has fallen. Finally, he drops the magic mug on the street and follows his friends.
- This is a much better issue than I remember it being.
- It is interesting that Ishi and Vartan are so close at this point considering that just a few issues ago she was ready to behead him. It doesn’t seem forced though, considering all they have been through recently.
- The concept of a leprechaun using his polymorph abilities to cheat at cards was a clever one.
- I am glad to see Agrivar back on track. I am also glad he almost had to hit rock bottom first.
- It was great to see Foxilion get a chance to shine. He has been out of his depth since the Avatar series began, but this adventure was right in his wheelhouse.