== The Party ==
Edward Grusk – Half-Orc Barbarian
Elyria Wolfsbane – Wood Elf Ranger
Tairen Lairoth – Human Necromancer
Sven Evenhand – Half-Elf Rogue
Lucas Higgs – Half-Elf Bard
== The Story ==
(As told by Lucas, a.k.a. ‘Bosun’, the Bard)
Actually, I’m not sure what happened to Azujhan. He ran up to me and tossed me this journal. He then sprinted to the head and I haven’t seen much of him since. I’ve never seen a dragon that particular shade of green before, especially on a red dragonborn. But, I warned him from taking the haggis from the dwarven street vendor. Nothing good comes from food from a dwarven food vendor, have you seen the stuff they can eat. Damn dwarves and their cast iron stomachs.
Having read through the other entries, I assume I am to make an entry in here describing our journey since the last entry. Since Azujhan is probably busy shedding scales through his nostrils, this entry falls to me.
After the confrontation at Baldur’s Gate, we began stacking our crates and otherwise loading our “wares” when a hand appeared out of a slot in the side a crate and waved itself, palm down, slowly. Naturally curious, we opened the crate to discover our missing companion Sven blinking in the sunlight. I’m not quite sure how he ended up here, but I assume it’s quite the story and one he’ll have to tell himself. As it were, it was convenient. We now had a place to stow Azujhan until his scales grew back.
A pleasant little man by the name of Enom Tobun introduced us in the most jocular manner. Truthfully, the unusually bitter Halfling spat a string of insults and suspicion. He introduced himself as the caravan master of his travelling group and demanded to know who we were. I introduced myself as the merchant of this wagon, Elyria was my driver/huntress, Edward and Tairen were both my guards. Sven was introduced as a noble who had purchased a fare to Baldur’s Gate.
Tobun began to instruct us of his rules and expectations. They were the usual drivel that you hear. Don’t leave the caravan. Don’t bother anybody else. Help out around the camp. Help with guard duty. The list went on and on, and to be perfectly honest, my mind drifted to three wagons towards the front of the caravan.
Tobun placed us in the 11th position, with two more behind us. The three wagons we were interested in, the ones we understood to be that of the dragon queen minions, were third, fourth and fifth in line. Quite a distance ahead of us and not convenient to interaction.
The first few days were long and boring. We had to really restrain ourselves from doing anything before we had established a few friendships. We had 40 days of this travel, so we had time on our side. Tairen did send his owl familiar into the air above the camp, and the three wagons, but located nothing of note. Elyria made some headway with two other hunters through their nightly hunts, Orvustia and a man they called “The Pole”. Apparently, Orvustia was quite talkative and the
Pole spoke less than his namesake.
Just prior to stopping for the night on day five, or six, the entire caravan train came to a sudden halt. I had to pull hard on the reins of our horses so they wouldn’t go nose-first into our friends in the wagon ahead of us. Everybody was pointing and shouting at something up the hill. I looked over and standing there was literally the most magnificent animal I have ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot.
A large, golden stag stood proudly atop a rise to our left. Whether it was a trick of the light or magic, this creature’s pelt glowed golden. It looked at us curiously, as though it wasn’t sure what to make of a rambling group of bipedals riding around in square boxes.
Soon, the shout for gold and the value of the magnificent animal’s pelt rang through the train and a horde of people began to hurdle up the hill. Ok, it wasn’t a horde, technically. It was something like 10 to 12 people, but a “horde” sounds so much more dramatic. And what is a bard if not dramatic. However, as dramatic as it was, it was a real danger to the animal.
Without asking my compatriots’ opinions, I stood and cast my sleep spell on the front line of the attackers. As much as it seemed unfair to attack one’s own allies, the reader must understand that it would have been a far greater crime to watch that beautiful animal killed for its pelt.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a streak of green as Elyria dashed for the stag. I had no worries over her motives in this chase. We had spoken enough, and I knew Elyria well enough, to know that my feelings of wrongness paled beside hers. As I turned my attention back to the mob, I noted that Pole had dashed to the front and was beginning to outdistance the remainder of the pack. I had a quandary. What were Pole’s motives? What was his purpose?
The question was academic really. He was out of the range of my spell, Elyria would have to deal with him as she saw fit. I had other, and more, fish to fry. I leapt from the wagon and ran towards the group to get them back into range. My first attempt had placed the first three or so asleep. However, such was the attention focused on the stag that there seemed to be no notice. My second sleep went off and another four dropped. The crowd was beginning to notice. Tairen backed my play with a convenient cloud of fog that he placed between the stag and the now confused attackers. Pole and Elyria had broken through and began to chase the stag away.
Suddenly Elyria stopped, her head tilted as though she was listening to a song only she could hear. The stag bounded away and Elyria followed. That’s a story for her to tell.
Back at the wagons, Tobun was irate, as we had learned was quite normal for this hafling. He questioned our group and our actions. I replied as I am typically wont, by failing every attempt at persuasion I made. While the failures were quite enough to cast suspicion upon us, it did place me at the highest level of his watchlist.
After that, we finished our travel to the next resting place. Elyria returned later with a bow that was just as majestic as the stag we had seen. It was obviously magical; however, it refused to yield its secrets to us.
After another few days of travel, we neared our next stopping spot to discover a wagon already there. A group in gaudy outfits and armor approached Tobun. We watched as he spoke to them at length and then motioned to the rear of the caravan. The man in charge smiled and nodded. With a flourish, he turned and motioned for his crew. As they made their way to the back of the caravan, they announced themselves to be adventurers and wished to avail themselves to whomever wished their assistance. Now, Mrs. Higgs’ little boy Lucas may have been born at night, but it wasn’t last night. We knew already that something suspicious was happening here, but the caravan moved off before we could address it.
At the rest, Tobun approached us, brusque as usual. We had been evicted from the caravan. Apparently, the “adventurers” knew of us and had warned Tobun about our “exploits” in Baldur’s Gate. Despite our attempts to refute the allegations, and a futile attempt at logic (how did a group in a wagon get to the stopping spot ahead of us without us seeing it), we were granted the leave to finish the night here, but would be on our own beginning the following morning.
To be sure, this ruffled some feathers. I turned three of us, Elyria, Sven and myself, invisible and moved to get a closer look at the troupe that had taken our spots. Sven investigated the wagon and its contents while Elyria and I listened to their conversations. The conversations were jocular in nature. They laughed openly, if quietly, about having duped the caravan master into getting rid of us to make room for them. Sven had discovered that the wagon was full of props and costumes. Realization had begun to dawn on us. We were against actors, not adventurers.
That’s not to say that it made our lives any easier. In fact, it made it more difficult. We now knew that, regardless of what we said, we would always be at a disadvantage speaking to Tobun. We decided to follow as close as we could to the rear of the caravan.
Two nights later, as we approached our resting area, a howl sounded in the distance. The hairs on the back of my neck climbed over my head and into my eyebrows as I recognized the sound. Dire wolves. And, by the sound of it, more than one.
To the right of the caravan a line of these creatures pawed at the ground, ready to charge. I heard the distant shout of Tobun sounding the alarm and rushing his guards into place. It wasn’t going to be enough. Not against what appeared to be 10 dire wolves. Even if their “heroes” had been genuine, the caravan was in danger.
Without much thought, we took to our horses. Elyria and Tairen began a ranged assault with both longbow and spell. The dusk reverberated as the air shattered atop the dire wolves. It was shattered again as Tairen’s spell melded into my own. Then it was the wolves’ turn.
Against, the heroes, it wasn’t a challenge. Wooden swords and gold painted leather helms are of little use against dire wolves. Two of their number collapsed as shield splintered and fake armor failed to blunt the teeth of the wolves. The other two survived the first assault, for the simple reason that the wolves missed and only on happenstance.
The Pole stood at the center of the ragtag line and a true center he was. He laid about him with that monster of a quarterstaff, cracking skulls and breaking claws. However, numbers were soon to best him. The remainder of the guards rallied quickly, to our surprise. They began to coordinate their attacks on the far wolf.
The near wolves finished off the heroes and began to flank around Pole and the hits began to tell. Pole dropped his guard on one bite and was thrown to the ground, unconscious. I quickly shouted a word to reinvigorate Pole. His more serious wounds sealed enough to return him to action. By this time, Edward had arrived at his side and took much of the pressure off a beleaguered line. In short order, the last wolf was put down and it was time to see to our own wounded.
Of the four actors, two were beyond our power to heal. One had a gash ripped into his neck and the other missing half of her torso. The other two were revived with some Goodberries supplied by Elyria.
I’ll freely admit it, we basked in the adulation shown by a very appreciative Tobun. Not only were we welcomed back to the caravan, but offered prime positions. We simply had to ask. We made no decision that night, we simply wanted to rest. Rest, however, appeared elusive.
Elyria came to us, her new bow had been stolen. She had been hiding the glow of her bow with rags wrapped around the gleaming length, but during the battle, it was impossible to disguise this bow as an ordinary one.
Our first suspect was Orvustia, the young huntress that had befriended Elyria, attempted to, during the first few days of our travel. She had been offering obscene amounts of money for the bow. Elyria had declined each time. Was her desperation and greed enough to risk stealing the bow?
Elyria questioned Orvustia closely. She didn’t have the bow. We looked about the camp, Tairen probed for the essences of magic and located one in the wagon of the last member of the caravan. A search of the wagon recovered the bow.
I’m not quite sure what the decision on this dwarf will be. They are still arguing over it now. I expect Azujhan will notate it once he is able to stop twitching. Never take food from a dwarven food vendor on the street.