Excellent Vancouver Adventure

During his visit to Vancouver, Josh led Rachel and myself on a two-character adventure set in Harmody in the world of Neng. I played Benel the Elder, a 55-year-old bard/storyteller from Loiborra. Rachel played Ham, a thief whom I trustingly hired as my bodyguard. (Gullibility is one of my character’s flaws.) Ham was also a skilled poisoner — think Zekel the Zekarian. Upon entering Harmody, I presented myself to the Great House of Dolphin, where I arranged to perform a 4-night epic ballad to commemorate the mercantile alliance between the Houses of Dolphin, Otter, and Octopus. We received lodging in the visitor’s part of the palace.

One evening as Ham was wandering about, and while I was getting beat up by a jug band in a taverna, someone apparently came into our room and rifled through our stuff without taking anything. Ham took it onto himself to ask around, and to search the room of another house guest, whom he concluded must have been behind this. The guest, who turned out to be the steward’s cousin, discovered Ham in the act, to which Ham responded: “Somebody rifled through my bags, so now I’m here to rifle through yours.” The other guest concluded that Ham was mentally defective, and meant no harm. Ham then went to harass the steward of the House about how our room had been searched. The steward denied that this could have been possible, and he and Ham took a strong dislike to each other. Ham was in fact thrown into the oubliette for the night, but let out the next day. Ham then swore terrible revenge against the steward within hearing of a chambermaid. Foolish Ham.

The steward and I agreed that given what had happened, it would be best if Ham left the House to find other lodging. Ham reluctantly agreed, but secretly decided to sneak around the house and get revenge. To further this peculiar goal, Ham stole a maid’s outfit, dressed as a maid (despite being a man and having no skill in disguise), and was sneaking around the House. I uncovered Ham in my room, and insisted that he leave. He then promptly crawled out a window while still wearing the maid’s outfit.

That evening the performance went splendidly. I actually wrote out my verses. Let me record the first several lines of the poem that Benel actually performed for the assembled dignitaries in the House of Dolphin:

Back when the world was young
Many songs were once sung
Of Krokan of the House of Otter
Who had a lovely daughter
That betrothed once became
To the scion of the house of fame,
Dolphin, a mighty lord
Throughout Harmody adored.
The two houses together ventured
On ships with servants indentured
Across the realm of Harm
To lands where it was warm
Wine-eye Krokan and
Long-thighed Dezeldun
Sailed for many a moon
Trade they made with Goos
Of the House of Octopus
In mercantile ability
Achieved great civility.
The rate of exchange was great
Profitable was the freight
From ships laden with goods
Like rain upon Par-quds
That for long aeons fell
As Harm’s realm did swell.
Tax benefits did accrue
To the Three Houses Great and True
As Pendel-bar’s thunderous shield
Cleaved on watery field,
As Hazaltar slew the marg
So sailed to Harmody carg-
o, rich and true
On Harm’s plain of blue.

I kid you not.

That night, during dinner the visiting steward of the House of Otter was poisoned! The steward of the House of Dolphin immediately proclaimed Ham to be the prime suspect, since he had (1) been caught rifling through belongings in someone else’s room (2) had been thrown in the oubliette overnight (3) had quarrelled with the Dolphin steward, and had been heard threatening revenge, (4) had poison, cheese and extra socks in his bag, and (5) had been seen climbing out a castle window while wearing a maid’s outfit.

The guards searched the town for Ham and found him easily enough — he wasn’t trying to hide, and of course, I wasn’t about to warn him. Now, Ham had in fact done all of the things attributed to him, except for the actual crime of poisoning the Otter steward. In spite of being innocent, you must admit that the circumstantial case was damning. Benel immediately disavowed all knowledge and association with Ham, believing him to be utterly guilty.

(To be continued)