The journey had not been easy by any stretch of the imagination, Wrenn felt a surge of relief as the town of Fortitude came in to view.
The badlands of Hazelmire had lived up to their reputation; more than once, Wrenn and his companion had been mistaken for easy targets by bandits on the road.
Wrenn still was, to an extent, easy pickings, despite Hilda’s efforts in teaching him how to use a blade. Hilda was not – her skill with a rapier would never cease to amaze Wrenn.
The gnome had always considered himself at a disadvantage when it came to combat, his small stature being a sign of weakness. Hilda, a halfling, had dispelled this myth completely. She used her height to her advantage: darting between legs, slashing at ankles and knees, and making the most of tall folks’ lack of practice with smaller targets.
“When we get there, let me do the talking”, cautioned Hilda, interrupting Wrenn’s thoughts.
“You’re the boss, Hil”, he replied.
They were on their way to meet a couple of Hilda’s old criminal contacts. Wrenn was quite new to this side of the law, but he found it increasingly exciting. Despite his studious nature, he was starting to enjoy the adrenaline rush of planning and executing a heist or burglary. It had helped support him on the road and, since meeting Hilda, he was getting much better at it.
“Fortitude is run down” was the first impression that Wrenn got when they entered the town. It had a seedy feel to it, he definitely didn’t like the way the residents were looking at him as they trudged down the main street. Clouds of dust were kicked up by passing horses and wagons, and there was no shortage of stray dogs fighting over scraps.
Hilda knew Fortitude well, and led them through a maze of alleyways towards the outskirts on the opposite side of town. Before turning a last corner, she spoke to Wrenn.
“OK last warning, let me lead and we should be fine. The guy who owns this place is a nasty piece of work”, she said. “You’re OK around half-orcs, right?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?”, asked Wrenn. “I’ve lived around them all my life”
"Well Murgarak is definitely more orc in his demeanour than human. Just warning you", Hilda replied.
Hilda lead Wrenn around the corner, in front of them stood a dilapidated building, each of its three stories more shabby and rickety than the last. Huge soot marks covered the bottom floor and the place looked like it hadn’t been cleaned for years. Over the much-repaired front door was a worn and barely-legible sign: The Black Cat Tavern.